It’s been clear for some time that the Boston Bruins need help on the back end and could desperately use a big, tough left shot defenseman.
That’s been made even more abundantly clear in the last few weeks as the B’s have surrendered a number of costly goals in the closing seconds of third periods during both wins and losses. It’s also perhaps not a coincidence that Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort has been on the ice for all of those damaging goals allowed over the last couple of weeks.
So the Boston Bruins are going to be in the market at the NHL trade deadline for a left shot defenseman that might be capable of playing with No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and certainly one that could help them close out games when things get a little hairy. Jakob Chychrun and Ben Chiarot are big names that have been linked to the Boston Bruins at certain times, but another name has entered the conversation in San Jose Sharks defenseman Jacob Middleton.
The Boston Bruins have shown interest in the 26-year-old left shot defenseman, per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, and are in the mix along with Tampa Bay and St. Louis for a player that’s “drawing sizeable interest” in trade chatter.
LeBrun on Insider Trading says #SJSharks defenceman Jacob Middleton is drawing sizeable interest. Tampa Bay, Boston and St. Louis are among teams interested.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) March 8, 2022
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Middleton is an interesting case as an older player that’s bounced between the AHL and NHL for several seasons but has stuck in San Jose this year with three goals and eight points in 39 games to go along with 62 penalty minutes. He’s also still a restricted free agent following this season, so the Boston Bruins could potentially retain Middleton’s services beyond this season’s stretch run.
Middleton had only managed 14 career NHL games prior to being a regular for the Sharks this season, but interestingly the player does have past history with current Providence Bruins head coach Ryan Mougenel while in the San Jose organization. It wouldn’t be all that different than Boston’s move to trade for Mike Reilly last season when he finally developed into an everyday defenseman for the Ottawa Senators after bouncing between the NHL and the minors in his career.
Middleton could be a low-cost alternative for the B’s back end as a player that’s got size, strength and the willingness to mix it up in the defensive zone as a shutdown defenseman. The blueliner is also averaging just 18:36 of ice time per game this season for the Sharks, though, so Middleton isn’t exactly a bone fide top-4 defenseman either. And he doesn’t have anything in the way of Stanley Cup playoff experience for a team that’s fortifying their roster for the postseason right now.
He’s more like a second-hand, cost-effective alternative for the Boston Bruins if they don’t end up going for broke at the NHL trade deadline with their trade acquisitions. The good news is that Middleton would bring some much-needed bite to the Boston lineup, as he showed when he dropped the gloves with Trent Frederic earlier this season among his nine fighting majors on the year for a Sharks team that’s quickly falling in the NHL standings. He’d be an addition in the punching, intimidating mold of Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller, something this team has been desperately missing on the back end this season.