A lack of defensive depth has been an issue for the Boston Bruins in recent Stanley Cup Playoff runs, which is why acquiring a defenseman should be near the top of general manager Don Sweeney's to-do list as the March 21 trade deadline nears.
These depth issues were a fatal flaw last season when the Bruins were unable to overcome injuries to Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller as the New York Islanders closed out their second-round series versus Boston with three consecutive wins.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Here are four defensemen the Bruins should consider pursuing ahead of the 2022 trade deadline (all salary/contract info via CapFriendly).
Calvin de Haan, Chicago Blackhawks
2021-22 Stats: 1 G, 3 A in 42 GP
Contract: $4.55M cap hit, UFA in 2022
De Haan checks off a few boxes for the Bruins. He plays the left side, he's a strong defensive player, he has a lot of experience and probably wouldn't cost a ton to acquire.
De Haan is one of five players in the league with 100 or more blocked shots entering Thursday. He puts his body on the line and doesn't shy away from 50-50 battles. Chicago has a .922 save percentage at 5-on-5 with de Haan on the ice, and the team also accounts for 54 percent of all high-danger scoring chances (the highest among all Blackhawks d-men) in those minutes, per Natural Stat Trick.
The Blackhawks own the third-worst record in the league, so there's no reason for them to hold on to de Haan past the trade deadline when he could walk in free agency this July.
Mark Giordano, Kraken
2021-22 Stats: 4 G, 14 A in 40 GP
Contract: $6.75M cap hit, UFA in 2022
Giordano isn't an elite defenseman any more, but he can absolutely still play a second- or third-pairing role on a contending team.
The Kraken haven't allowed many Grade A scoring chances with Giordano on the ice, evidenced by his impressive 55.4 high-danger attempt percentage. Giordano isn't going to tally around 40-50 points in a season at this stage of his career, but he's still producing at a pretty decent rate with 18 points in 40 games (0.45 points per night).
Seattle's captain plays the left side of the blue line, too, which addresses one of Boston's needs.
The Kraken are struggling mightily with the second-worst record in the league. Giordano is one of their pending UFAs. The smartest move for Seattle would be trading Giordano for picks and/or prospects to accelerate the team's journey toward being a contender.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman wrote in early January that "It’s unlikely Giordano stays with the Kraken, as he’ll have serious rental value."
Nick Leddy, Detroit Red Wings
2021-22 Stats: 1 G, 10 A in 40 GP
Contract: $5.5M cap hit, UFA in 2022
Leddy would be an excellent depth addition to the Bruins' blue line. He's a reliable, steady defensemen who plays solid defense, generates decent offense (20-30 points per season) and can contribute to special teams.
Leddy also is a very experienced player, with 121 career playoff games and a Stanley Cup title under his belt. Another bonus with Leddy is he's a left-shot defenseman, and the Bruins could definitely use more depth on that side of the blue line.
The Red Wings are unlikely to be a contender for one of the wild card spots in the Eastern Conference, so it would make sense for them to a get a draft pick and/or a prospect for an upcoming free agent like Leddy. Moving Leddy also would allow some of the Red Wings' younger defensemen to get more ice time.
Jakob Chychrun, Coyotes
2021-22 Stats: 2 G, 6 A in 29 GP
Contract: $4.6M cap hit, UFA in 2025
Acquiring Chychrun would classify as a blockbuster move for the Bruins, one that would help them right now and for several years because the Coyotes star still has three more seasons remaining on his contract, which also carries a very reasonable $4.6 million salary cap hit.
Chychrun is a legit first-pairing defenseman who plays in all situations, logs 20-plus minutes per game and generates scoring at 5-on-5 and the power play. When healthy, Chychrun should score 10-plus goals and tally around 40 points on an annual basis.
The cost to get Chychrun will be substantial, with reports indicating that a top-tier prospect, a first-round pick and a quality NHL player as a likely asking price.
The Bruins need another top-four defenseman, so a move for Chychrun would satisfy a roster weakness. The question is whether the B's want to cash some of their best trade assets for Chychrun or use them to address another roster need such as a No. 2 center.