It is no secret that when the 2019-20 National Hockey League season officially ends, there are some big-name free agents that the Boston Bruins have to make a decision on. The top two names are both key defensemen that have been the cornerstone of that unit in recent years.
Torey Krug is priority No. 1 for general manager Don Sweeney and the Bruins front office. He is looking to cash in on a big payday, but the coronavirus pandemic that paused the NHL season on March 12 has put that on hold. Nobody knows what the next few months hold for the league and free agents to be. The same goes for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara who is also a free agent. At 43 years old, it is anyone’s guess as to what Chara decides to do.
If Boston loses one or both of those players, that will leave a big hole on their blue line. Youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Brendon Carlo will be the two main defensemen returning, but after that, it would be a guessing game as to how the club would round out the roster in time for the 2020-21 season. If the Bruins chose to go in-house and not take a dip in free agency, there are plenty of options in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins.
One name, however, that is worth keeping an eye on is Jack Ahcan, a prospect that Sweeney signed in late March out of college. He was the second undrafted free agent college signing for the Bruins after Nick Wolff from the University of Minnesota-Duluth was signed two weeks earlier.
Record-Setting College Career
Sweeney has proven willing to take a chance on undrafted signees out of college and Ahcan is in that category after he inked his entry-level contract. A left-handed shot that could be considered undersized at 5-foot-8 and 184 pounds, he played four years at St. Cloud State University. Despite having his senior year cut short due to COVID-19, he was able to put his name in the Huskies record books.
He played in 144 games and finished with 21 goals and 82 assists for 103 points for his career. He leaves the Huskies program as the all-time leader in assists for defensemen and he is just the third St. Cloud State University D-man to crack 100 career points. As a senior captain this season, he had 7 goals and 18 assists for 25 points to finish third on the team in scoring.
Similar Situation to Krug
Krug was signed by Boston as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State University in 2012 by then-GM Peter Chiarelli. It’s safe to say that despite being undersized like Ahcan, Krug has had a very good NHL career to date and is looking to make a splash in free agency.
Ahcan went unnoticed during his days at St. Cloud State, but had a breakout senior season. Not many college hockey defensemen rack up 82 career assists and play the game thinking pass-first while also not being afraid to aggressive offensively.
He also was not afraid to give up his body either as he blocked over 200 shots as a Husky, which earned him National Collegiate Hockey Conference second-team honors for a second consecutive season.
Who Knows What the Future Holds
Just 23 years old, Ahcan will attend his first professional training camp prior to the 2020-21 season with McAvoy, who he was teammates with on the United States National Junior Team in 2017. He will enter as Krug did, as a rookie on an undrafted free agent contract, but he also has the ability to become a top-six defenseman down the road for the Black and Gold.
Who knows how some contact situations work out this offseason with the Bruins two big-name defenseman. Ahcan adds young defensive depth to the Bruins depth chart and he could have the opportunity to work his way up to Boston before he could have envisioned just four months ago in college.