By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- The top six defense spots on the Bruins have been spoken for since the Bruins locked down the summer deal for Joe Corvo, so there isnt a great of mystery when it comes to the blueline crew.
But its likely that the Bruins will carry a seventh defenseman out of training camp since they have plenty of salary cap space and a plan in place to give plenty of rest to all of their players after most of the healthy Bruins skaters played over 100 games last season between the regular season and playoffs.
Steve Kampfer played nearly 40 games for the Bs last season as a puck-moving defenseman before Tomas Kaberle was brought in at the trade deadline, and clearly has the experience advantage over some of the other seventh defensemen candidates. Kampfer appeared to wear down and lose a little confidence as his rookie year progressed with the Bruins last season, but the young skaters has arrived in camp with a renewed vigor.
Fellow young defensemen Matt Bartkowski, Colby Cohen and David Warsofsky have all experienced both and bad moments during training camp, and both Bartkowski and Cohen have stood out particularly. Bartkowski made some rookie mistakes, of course, but hes also executed plenty of solid offensive players while showing off his seam passing during the power play.
Cohen has similarly shown good creativity, vision and passing skills while working the point, but still has a bit of work to do on the defensive end. Warsofsky has moved the puck ably, but will need to continue learning how to fight off bigger, stronger attackers before hes truly ready for regular NHL duty. All four young defensemen have their strengths and weaknesses and all four young defensemen could benefit from more development time at the AHL level, and thats gotten Julien thinking that a good, old fashioned defensemen rotation might work best for the depth player.
One other name that shouldnt be forgotten: Army officer Zach McKelvie, who was forced to sit out two seasons while completing his military obligation and is really beginning to pick things up. McKelvie is one of the best skaters in training camp and wont shy away from the physical stuff, and those qualities dont along very often.
We want to continue to have a look at those guys, but no doubt. Steven Kampfer was here, Matt Bartkowski was here last year, and they certainly have a little bit of edge in that regard, said Julien. But weve still got McKelvie, I think hes done a fabulous job for a guy that hadnt played in a couple of years. Were kind of monitoring his progression here as we go along.
Colby Cohen is another guy who I thought has good size -- and maybe not the extreme physical player -- but certainly a guy that moves the puck extremely well. There are some guys that are still here: David Warsofsky is another guy that maybe size-wise is not big, but his mobility is extremely good. He can move the puck well. There are a lot of guys still that were looking at. The one thing we know is that those guys are all young players and theyre also easy guys to bring in and send back without the waivers. So it doesnt mean necessarily that it only has to be one guy thats the seventh player. It could be one person, but it doesnt mean it has to be.
For an organization that appeared to hold a bare cupboard of young defensemen just a couple of years ago, the young talent lining up for a reserve role on the Bs roster is nothing to sneeze at. The Bruins defensemen cupboard is now once again full of talent, and this is a big season for many of their young careers.