Would you rather Bruins pay Shattenkirk or Chara?

Would you rather Bruins pay Shattenkirk or Chara?

Over the weekend, we ran a player-by-player free agency preview, which was led by one big point: The Bruins shouldn’t sign Kevin Shattenkirk. 

The reasons for this: The Bruins aren't exactly starved for right-shot defensemen and they don’t exactly have $6 million-plus to throw at something that isn’t a need. 

RELATED

Somewhat surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be much of a faction of Bruins fans that disagrees. Though Shattenkirk has been linked to the Bruins over the years given their turnover on the back end and his history playing in Boston, fewer and fewer view him as the future savior he was once considered to be. 

So if the Bruins aren’t going to spend on Shattenkirk, should they spend on another free agent defenseman? The answer is still no, unless it’s cheap. What the Bruins need is stability on the left side of their back end as they wait to see if lefties Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril (and, down the road, Ryan Lindgren) can emerge as legitimate NHL defensemen to join righties Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as potential long-term fixtures. 

The Bruins have 26-year-old Torey Krug locked in for three more seasons. Aside from that, the left side is entirely unclear. Zdeno Chara is 40 and in the final year of his contract. Kevan Miller has been used on his off-side and could potentially be left unprotected in the expansion draft. Joe Morrow is a restricted free agent who has yet to crack Boston’s lineup full-time. 

So really, the Bruins need to shore up the left side of their defense going forward more than they need to sign another righty -- especially if that righty warrants any sort of bidding war. 

One way of doing that is to simply extend Chara. The future Hall of Famer will play this season at a discounted cap hit of $4 million since his contract extends past his 40th birthday and such contracts see their salaries become their cap hits after 40. 

The Bruins could just wait until after next season to do that, of course. Simply waiting it out would allow the B’s to see if Chara regresses or if the team is less competitive than expected, in which case they could entertain trading him. 

Yet if the Bruins were intent on spending money this offseason on a defenseman, they’d be better of spending less of it on an older Chara than more of it on a less-effective Shattenkirk, so the question was posed: 

The voting indicated a preference among 3,613 fans to pay Chara (64 percent of the vote) rather than Shattenkirk (36 percent), and that’s the correct line of thinking. Shattenkirk is in his prime, but Chara is still the more effective player given that he plays bigger minutes (Shattenkirk averaged 19:56 this past season; Chara hasn’t averaged fewer than 23 minutes a night since 2001-02) and plays against other teams’ top players, which is the Bruins’ bigger defensive need. 

For time being, the Bruins don’t need to give out either contract, but their priority should be stabilizing the left side however they can rather than further adding to the right. 

Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

nhl_draft_2_062417.jpg

Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

CHICAGO – The Bruins finished up their 2017 NHL Draft class with a bit of a project, but a 6-foot-5 defenseman with some great skating wheels is a pretty good way to go with a seventh round pick. The B’s nabbed Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Daniel Bukac with the 204th pick in the draft, and admitted afterward that he’s an ultra-big bodied player that could take some time in the development process.

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley said Boston is more than happy to be patient with Bukac given the tools that he’s working with as an 18-year-old prospect. Bukac had two goals and 17 points to go along with 38 penalty minutes in his first season in North America after coming over from the Czech Republic, and Bradley said that B’s scouts noted that he continued to improve and get comfortable as the season wore on.

"He's raw. He's a project. [He’s a] kid from the Czech Republic that played in the Western Hockey League,” said Bradley. “At the start of the year - he's come leaps and bounds with his development. Talking to the people - the coaches, the management, and the GM in Brandon, they're very excited about him coming back to Brandon. They're expecting big things from him. We look forward to seeing him in camp."

Bukac is starting to garner some good international experience after playing for the Czechs in the Under-18’s and the Ivan Hinkla Tournament, but this weekend it was all about his addition to the talented group of Bruins prospects in the hockey world.

"I'm so excited to be drafted by the Boston Bruins," said Bukac, who described himself as a solid two-way defenseman with a good first pass. "It's an awesome feeling. I'm so glad that I was drafted by Boston."

Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

2017_nhl_draft_062417.jpg

Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

CHICAGO – While the Bruins went strong two-way defenseman early in the 2017 NHL Draft, they took a shot at a more offensive-minded Swedish defenseman late with seventh-round pick of Victor Berglund.

The six-foot, 165-pound Berglund clearly has a way to go in physical development and will need to get much bigger and stronger before he’s potentially ready for the North American pro ranks, but B’s assistant GM Scott Bradley raved about the Swedish defenseman’s skill set and potential. He also noted that Boston’s entire European scouting contingent, including former B’s forward PJ Axelsson, were fully on board with taking a flier on a talented player that simply needs to develop in the Swedish hockey system.

“Our Swedish guys were on top of Berglund. They think he’s a mobile D, he’s ultra-skilled and he skates well. He’s a six-footer, but [PJ Axelsson, Svenake Svensson and Victor Nybladh] were all pounding the table for him,” said Bradley. “We went along with it and I think we might have something there. Talking to his strength coach after the fact he’s working on putting some muscle and weight on, so we look forward to seeing him at development camp.”

In 62 games at three different levels, Berglund posted five goals and 18 points last season and displayed the kind of speed, creativity and play-making that one needs from their defensemen in today’s NHL.

"I'm an offensive defenseman, who likes to play with the puck, with a great short pass," said Berglund. "I like to follow the rush up ice and want the puck."

It will be a matter of building size and strength and for Berglund to continue developing his game in Sweden for the time being, but the Bruins are certainly happy with him at the 195th pick in Saturday’s second day of the draft.