Bartkowski not focusing on 'hindrance' of trade rumors

Bartkowski not focusing on 'hindrance' of trade rumors
July 15, 2014, 5:45 pm
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Matt Bartkowski has gradually gone about proving he can be a capable NHL defenseman over the last four years as a member of the Boston Bruins. After signing on the dotted line Monday, he’s happy to continue that journey next season. The 26-year-old Bartkowski avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million with the Black and Gold, and secured his spot among nine able-bodied NHL defensemen in Boston entering the season.

Bartkowski is coming off his most successful pro campaign: 18 assists and a plus-22 in 64 games for the Bruins while filling in as a top four D-man on the left side in place of injured Dennis Seidenberg.

“It’s always good if you can come to an agreement before the hearing. I think it sends a positive message to Matt that we want to have him back,” said B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli. “He’s still relatively young. I thought that when Dennis Seidenberg got hurt, he was able to come in and play some real solid minutes. He’s the type of player that can really push the puck well.

“A lot of people remember the couple of blips in the playoffs, but he gave us very good service during the course of the year with Seidenberg out. It’s a tough position in the league, defense, and there are nuances that he’s still learning. I expect him to continue to improve.”

With Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller/Adam McQuaid in the mix, it would appear that Bartkowski is at least the seventh defenseman to start the season. Given Bartkowski’s natural skating speed and solid skill set, it could make the most sense dealing the young chip to a blueline-starved team.

Clearly at least a defenseman or two will be dealt away from the Bruins this summer, but Bartkowski is just focusing on improving his game, and building on a promising first full season in the NHL. He’s already been through the trade ringer once before when he was perilously close to being traded to Calgary for Jarome Iginla in 2013, so he’s learned how to block it out.

“I really don’t pay too much attention to it. There’s no real reason to. I think it’s only just a hindrance to worry about where you’re going to end up and all that,” said Bartkowski. “You just prepare for what you can, and the team you’re on. If something happens, it happens. It’s out of our hands, so like I said, there’s really no reason for me to worry about it. I just try to focus on my summer workouts and being as ready as I can for next season.

“I think last year was a good step being able to show people [what I can do]. But I think going forward the main thing would be just consistency. Along the way I’d have a stretch of [good] games, and then maybe a mix-up here or there. I think those happen to maybe not every player, but every younger player in his career. If I can work on the consistency — if you can show you can play every night — then anybody should have a long career doing that.”

Consistency, decision-making and bringing the same focus every shift will continue to be the areas of improvement for Bartkowski. But last season and next year’s salary both served to prove that the young blueliner is trending up the development path for Boston, or any other team interested in giving him room to grow.