Everything is going fairly swimmingly for the Boston Bruins through the first month of the NHL regular season.
The Bruins are off to a 5-1-1 start to their season while enduring injuries and the absence of David Pastrnak, who is expected to return for Saturday night’s big tilt against the Washington Capitals. They’ve also piled up points while going through seismic changes on the back end after Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara departed in free agency.
It’s been so far, so good in that department with Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon stepping up even as Matt Grzelcyk has been in and out of the lineup with an assortment of injuries thus far. But can the young Boston Bruins defensemen sustain their level of play, and remain healthy, over the course of a 56-game condensed schedule over the next three months?
Should the Boston Bruins be one of the teams in the running for St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn as rumors continue to swirl that he’s going to be dealt?
This article posts five NHL teams that should be in the running for the services of Dunn should he be moved, but the Boston Bruins weren’t listed as one of the hockey clubs. But maybe they should considering their circumstances to start this season.
The 24-year-old Dunn has averaged nine goals and 27 points over his first three seasons in St. Louis and has shown the kind of skating, shot and puck-moving skills that could portend bigger and better things as he enters his prime NHL years.
Per the Score article, “over the last three seasons Dunn ranks 20th among qualified defenseman in goals per 60 minutes and 51st in points per 60 minutes. He’s posted strong possession numbers over the last three years, too, albeit in soft matchups with lots of offensive zone starts.”
Of course, he’s also never averaged more than 17:32 of ice time per game during his NHL career as a third-pairing defenseman and has been a healthy scratch at times in St. Louis where he’s clearly worn out his welcome. Dunn is also working on a one-year deal worth $1.875 million as an RFA, so his price tag would be pretty affordable for the Black and Gold should they deal for him.
Could the Boston Bruins build a package around Anders Bjork for Dunn as Bjork has shown signs of life as a bottom-6 winger capable of killing penalties, utilizing his elite skating speed and still holding untapped offensive potential? As BHN’s James Murphy pointed out in his piece spelling out the trade situation with Bjork, the Bruins are still looking for a veteran left-shot D-man category that Dunn fully qualifies for. If they could acquire Dunn without dealing a high-end defenseman prospect like Urho Vaakanainen, then it’s certainly worth exploring for the Black and Gold as they’ve explored dealing Bjork early this season.
Patience might be the best course of action for the Boston Bruins, though, as Lauzon and Zboril have about as much experience as Dunn does as a top-4 defenseman. The Bruins might also be waiting until later in the regular season to see if veteran D-men like Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson or others might be available at a manageable price tag ahead of the trade deadline.
Still, the Boston Bruins have been consistent about a desire to give Zboril, Lauzon and eventually Vaakanainen as well legit chances to win NHL jobs in Boston, and that’s what is happening to date. Zboril is a plus-1, averaging a shade under 19 minutes of ice time per game and has impressed with his puck retrieval, puck-moving and heavy shot from the point. Lauzon is a minus-4 in 20:16 of ice time in a shutdown role with Charlie McAvoy on the top pairing, and the results have been a little more mixed for him to this point.
“You got two guys [Chara, Krug] that leave that play left D, so you’re naturally — you should be excited, because there’s opportunity right away,” said Cassidy of the situation facing their young ‘D’ entering this season. “Sometimes you come into camp, you do everything necessary — just no room. And that was a bit of the case on the left side here with Zee and Krug and then Grizz kind of pushed his way in the door. So it got tough for those young guys, Lauzon included, Vaak. So now there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, for those guys.”
It’s an interesting question to pose to Boston Bruins fans right now given the way things have successfully rolled out for the Boston Bruins to this point. Is it better to stick with the B’s youth movement that seems to be working over a small two-week sample size, or should the Bruins still be on the lookout for back end help?