In the NHL, it is often viewed as a major advantage to own an abundance of reliable defensemen down the stretch. This is especially true when those defensemen are fresh and young, with an ability to skate important minutes.
The Boston Bruins seem to be in that type of situation as we hit the All-Star break. With the recall of Jeremy Lauzon from the American Hockey League, the Bruins showed the true organizational depth they have and the next-man-up mentality that has defined them throughout an injury-riddled season.
The Bruins announced on Tuesday morning that they would be recalling Lauzon, a 22-year-old defenseman, from the Providence Bruins. The defender is a former second-round pick and is also known for his heroics in the 2017 World Junior Championships for Team Canada; playing against his now-teammate Charlie McAvoy who was then a member of Team USA. Lauzon has decent size, standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 205 pounds – he scored 13 points in 43 games for Providence in the AHL this season.
The Bruins recalled Lauzon, looking for a spark, and he provided it right away, scoring a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night to tie the game at one goal apiece. His presence was a needed boost for Boston, who have struggled to finish off games more this season than in past seasons.
The Bruins have often recalled young skaters late and played them in impactful roles into the postseason. In the 2012-13 season, it was Torey Krug who scored four goals en route to the Bruins’ win in the Eastern Conference Final over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Another example came last season when Connor Clifton was recalled late and became an impactful member of another Bruins conference championship. This begs the question: could Lauzon be an impactful newcomer this season? Only time will tell, however, his first game was a step in the right direction.
A Plethora of Young Defenseman
Lauzon is just one example of the organizational depth the Bruins have on defense. Many of their young skaters – McAvoy, Clifton, Matt Grzelcyk, and Brandon Carlo – have already reached the NHL, but there are still multiple young defensemen in the Bruins system who are close to breaking the surface.
Lauzon has played a few games in the NHL in the past and is getting another opportunity now. He is included in a prospect pool that includes former first-round pick Urho Vaakanainen who has seen some time in the NHL and looks to be a promising young defenseman. Also in the pipeline are Jakub Zboril, another former first-round pick, and 6-foot-6 defenseman Wiley Sherman, formerly of Harvard University. Other prospects are further developing, such as Axel Andersson, a promising second-round pick from two years ago.
Defensive depth is always important as teams get deeper and deeper into a run for the postseason, and the Bruins’ group of young defensemen is once again deep enough to take them on a run in the playoffs.
Teams like the Washington Capitals and resurgent Tampa Lightning, both with very deep rosters themselves, will stand in their way.