Bruins Should Target These 3 Bottom-Pair Defensemen

In Thursday night’s game against the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins’ defenseman Jakub Zboril left early with a lower-body injury. At this time, the specific details of his injury have not been announced. Yet, when seeing as how he was helped off the ice by teammates and couldn’t put weight down on his right leg, it feels that the 24-year-old could be out for a long time. If that is, in fact, the case, the Bruins should consider trading for a bottom-pair defenseman.

Interestingly, Zboril actually started the season off as the team’s seventh defenseman. However, due to inconsistent play from Connor Clifton, the 2015 first-round pick was promoted to the bottom-pair and played on the right side. Although the Bruins have other internal options they could run with, like John Moore, Jack Ahcan and Urho Vaakanainen, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to add a little more depth through trade.

Zboril’s absence is a notable one, as he’s been making real progress this season. In 10 games, he has three assists and a plus-1 rating. Here’s to hoping he will be able to return soon, but for now, here are some potential defensemen that could work well replacing him in the lineup.

Luke Schenn

Things are continuing to get worse for the Vancouver Canucks. At this time, they have an 8-15-2 record, and the playoffs look entirely out of the picture. Due to their disastrous start, they also have fired general manager Jim Benning, head coach Travis Green, assistant general manager John Weisbrod and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner. With that, they hired Bruce Boudreau as their new head coach. With all of these changes, one has to wonder if this will result in trades from here. One player from Vancouver who the Bruins should look at is veteran defenseman Luke Schenn.

Luke Schenn #2 of the Vancouver Canucks
Luke Schenn, Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The vast majority of players on the Canucks are struggling right now, but Schenn is quietly having an excellent start to the season. In 11 games, he already has a goal and five points. That’s impressive offensive production from him, as he already passed the four points in 38 games he had with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. With that, he has a plus-4 rating, so he’s been defensively sound in the process.

What’s also very appealing about Schenn is that he’s locked up until the end of next season with a very affordable $850,000 cap hit. That’s not bad at all for a defenseman who plays a very heavy game. With longtime Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller retiring last season, it would be nice to get a little tougher on the back end.

Justin Braun

Like the Canucks, the Philadelphia Flyers just fired their head coach Alain Vigneault. After a pretty strong start to the season, the Flyers have fallen off dramatically. They are currently on an eight-game losing streak and now sport an 8-10-4 record because of it. If they continue to struggle this much from here, defenseman Justin Braun will likely be made available. He would surely be a nice addition to the Bruins’ bottom-pair.

Related: Bruins Have 3 Third-Line Center Trade Targets

Similar to Schenn, Braun is a veteran who is noted as being a defensive defenseman. In 22 games this season, however, he has been a bit more active offensively, as he has a goal and eight points. He only had six points in 53 games last season, so that’s a pretty solid increase of production. Yet, the 34-year-old would primarily be brought in to attempt to bring more stability to the back end.

Braun is another player who the Bruins wouldn’t have much trouble fitting into their salary cap, either. He is in the final year of his contract and carries a $1.8 million cap hit. He also could make a solid pair with Mike Reilly, as he would allow the latter to jump into the offensive side of the game more. As we inch closer to the deadline, he could be a very solid rental candidate for Boston because of all of this.

Jeremy Lauzon

During the offseason, the Boston Bruins lost Jeremy Lauzon to the Seattle Kraken. It was a tough blow for the team, as he, of course, is a 24-year-old who is just beginning his NHL career. He cemented himself as a legitimate top-six defenseman with the Bruins last season, too. In 41 games during 2020-21, he had a goal, eight points and a plus-8 rating.

Jeremy Lauzon, Seattle Kraken

Jeremy Lauzon, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With the Kraken this season, Lauzon has three assists and a minus-7 rating in 21 games. Upon first glance, his statistics may not look too great, but it is important to remember that Seattle is struggling, as evidenced by their 9-13-2 record. Furthermore, he’s been extremely noticeable when it comes to the physical side of the game. Thus far, he has 69 hits, which is nothing to scoff about.

When looking at Seattle’s depth on the back end, we could very well see them look to move a defenseman, and Lauzon is certainly a potential candidate. If made available, the Bruins should pursue him, as they clearly didn’t want to lose him for nothing over the summer. He’s a familiar face who knows head coach Bruce Cassidy’s system well and showed last season that he’s capable of playing the right side, too. He worked well enough as a bottom-pair defenseman for Boston last season, so realistically, why wouldn’t he again?

Honorable Mention

Although he’s not a trade target, the Bruins could even look to sign veteran defenseman Jason Demers, as the 33-year-old has yet to find a home for the season.

In 41 games last season with the Arizona Coyotes, he had four assists and a minus-4 rating. Yet, in 50 games the season before, he recorded 11 helpers, so maybe he could provide a little more offense if given the chance to play again.

If Zboril officially ends up having a long-term injury, the Bruins should look to add to their roster sooner rather than later. When looking at how often players get injured in general, it’s always beneficial to have a lot of depth. Any of these three players above would not only create more competition, but also give the Bruins more options with their lineup moving forward. As the season progresses, it’ll be intriguing to see what the franchise opts to do.

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