If they haven’t already, the Boston Bruins should at least look into defensemen P.K. Subban and Keith Yandle as potential candidates for professional tryouts.
With training camp ready to begin in less than a month, the Boston Bruins will be lacking experienced depth on both sides of their blue line with right-shot defenseman Charlie McAvoy (shoulder), likely out until December and left-shot Matt Grzelcyk (shoulder), out until at least November. Even left-shot Mike Reilly (ankle), and right-shot Jakub Zboril (knee), are question marks to be ready for the start of at least the preseason on October 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers. If Zboril and Reilly aren’t ready to go by then, or worse by the regular season opener against the Washington Capitals on October 12, then Hampus Lindholm and Derek Forbort would be the only left-shot defensemen with real NHL experience on the left side and on the right side, it would be just Brandon Carlo and Connor Clifton.
As Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney recently pointed out, the Bruins can place McAvoy, Grzelcyk as and winger Brad Marchand (hip) on long-term injury reserve to get under the cap and gain some space until November.
“We have some challenges, as do several teams and how we do that through trade or be it through waivers that really all teams are going to have to face,” Sweeney acknowledged. “We don’t have an issue certainly through November. We don’t have an issue because of LTI and the likelihood that will be an LTI with the injuries we have, the amount of injuries we have.”
So while the Boston Bruins are currently $2.2 million over the $82.5 million salary cap, they should have some solid cap space to play with by the time the 2022-23 regular season begins. Even with Marchand expected to be out until late November, the Bruins still have plenty of depth up front after the recent signings of forwards Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Pavel Zacha. So it would behoove Sweeney use his new found cap space to shore up the blue line with some proven NHLers and both Keith Yandle and P.K. Subban could bring in experience and help a powerplay that will be missing two of it’s best weapons from the back end in McAvoy and Grzelcyk. The best thing about both unrestricted free agents is that they wouldn’t take up much of that aforementioned LTIR cap space.
“I think both guys would be willing to sign PTO’s at this point,” an NHL source told Boston Hockey Now recently. “We’re getting really close to camp now and I know both guys want to pay this season. We’ve heard the Yandle to the Bruins rumors forever, and now it seems like maybe the time is just right to finally give it a try. I also know that Subban loves the tradition and atmosphere of Boston sports and the fans. I know Bruins fans hate him going back to his Canadiens days but man if he could come in and just be a solid depth guy, low expectations and buy in, that and his enthusiasm could be a fun fit.”
Another NHL source close to P.K. Subban has previously confirmed to BHN that he does indeed have interest in playing for the team he once viewed as an arch-rival.
The 33-year-old Subban clearly isn’t the electrifying defenseman that won the 2013 Norris Trophy anymore but as his agent Don Meehan told the Montreal Gazette back on July 30, he did leave a good impression as a teammate playing for the New Jersey Devils last season.
“I think based on his play recently with New Jersey and all of the positive comments that (Devils GM) Tommy Fitzgerald has made about his play and his support for his teammates and his likability by his teammates,” Meehan said back on July 30. “The way he contributed this year, I think he played effectively. He’s not the P.K. of eight years ago, but then nobody is. But I think there’s a place for him that he can contribute to a team and contribute well on a positive basis.”
The same has been said for Yandle with the Flyers last season and the Florida Panthers before that. Bringing in one or both on PTO’s would be a low-risk, high-reward move that the Boston Bruins need to explore if they’re not already.