The Boston Bruins have had one of the best defensive units the last few years but that unit has undergone some changes this offseason with the sole purpose of getting younger. Gone are Andrew Ference, Wade Redden and Aaron Johnson. In their places a group of young defensemen will be given a chance to shine.
The trio of Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, and Dougie Hamilton have played a combined 65 regular season games and none are older than 25. Bartkowski is the elder statesman of the group at 25, Krug is 22, and Hamilton is 20.
The trio's arrival couldn't have come at a better time. With the likes of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg aging, it gives Krug, Bartkowski and Hamilton time to learn from the veterans and ease their way into eventually taking over for Chara and Seidenberg.
"There is a freshness, a young look to it," Peter Chairelli said in July. "If things aren't working out as the season progresses I may look into that, but I'm okay with it. What I saw with these guys is there's going to be some bumps along the road."
"But the new guys that I think will be in the lineup are competitive. They're young, they're all good skaters and they're going to make some mistakes. But I like what they bring in general."
With the way Krug and Bartkowski played in the playoffs, there shouldn't be too many "bumps along the road." Both showed that they could handle the pressure playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and should only get better as the season goes on.
Hamilton had his bumps last season as part of his up and down season. Hopefully he spent the summer getting stronger and will be better this season.
The biggest impact that this youth movement will have on the Bruins is it will give the Bruins defensemen that can move the puck and be an offensive threat, something that Chiarelli has been trying to find for years. The three combined for five goals and six assists in the playoffs. While most of those points came against the New York Rangers, it still showed that the trio (especially Krug) were able to beat elite goalies and be productive.
It was that series against the New York Rangers that really showed what this trio could do. They stepped in when veterans went down with injuries and impressed right from the beginning. Krug led the way with four goals that series while Hamilton added three assists. While Bartkowski didn't show up on the scoresheet as much, he was still showed that he could handle the NHL, playing around 20 minutes in every game against the Rangers.
Unfortunately, there appears to be only two spots open on the blueline, meaning one of these three will be a healthy scratch. We'll just have to wait until training camp to see who wins a spot.
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