By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
In the event that you were hoping for a Bruins-Blues swap of free agent defensemen in the wake of Torey Krug’s move to St. Louis, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney delivered some bad news Saturday with the word that they have not called Alex Pietrangelo.
“I have not, full disclosure in this case, I have not had a discussion with Pietrangelo’s camp,” Sweeney admitted.
Boston’s lack of involvement in the Pietrangelo sweeps comes down to their right-side defense situation, with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo already playing prominent roles, and with Connor Clifton and Kevan Miller also on the team’s depth chart.
“We feel that our right side might not be the absolute best fit for our club,” said Sweeney. “Very respectful for the player, an elite player in the National Hockey League. That’s not the discussion we’ve had.”
The 30-year-old Pietrangelo truly is the top get of the free agent market. The 6-foot-3 defender is coming off a 52-point campaign (his second-highest scoring single) and a fourth-place Norris Trophy finish, which the best of his career. And in what’s an already-slow market, there’s been talk of Pietrangelo being the one that’s holding up the rest of the signings.
“I don’t think any one player is going to set a market,” Sweeney said of the potential of the market waiting for his domino to fall. “[Peitreangelo] has his own as a player. You’re seeing several other players throughout the league during the course of yesterday and what will trickle in over the last week and the coming weeks if it takes that long. There is never any one comparable that anybody points to. It’s an entire broad-based market and every player finds their slotting with the particular teams.”
But with Krug gone, and with Pietrangelo (to this point) not in their plans, what are the B’s doing on defense?
“We’re continuing to explore external options,” said Sweeney. “We feel that we have some young players, not unlike a few years ago where Carlo came on to the scene. Did we absolutely know that Brandon was going to be able to go in and play the amount of minutes right out of the gate? Nope. But we felt comfortable that we were going to give him that opportunity, and felt we could insulate it. Charlie and Brandon now have been in this league and have had a tremendous amount of success.
“Can they carry a younger player? Is [Matt Grzelcyk] ready for an elevated role? Some of that is to be determined. [Urho] Vaakanainen, [Jakub] Zboril, John Moore and the collection of the group is what it is at this stage, while I continue to explore external options and it might be by committee in some of those situations. And it think some of the younger players are excited. And Zdeno [Chara] is part of that equation. We’ll continue to have the conversations with his group and allow him the latitude to make those decisions accordingly.”
Listen to Ty Anderson and Matt Dolloff discuss the latest with the Bruins in free agency and the trade market in the latest episode of the Sports Hub Sidelines podcast: