The Boston Bruins will have a surplus of defensemen entering training camp with as many as nine NHL-ready players competing for six or seven roster spots.
Matt Bartkowski, who avoided arbitration by signing a one-year contract worth $1.25 million on Tuesday, is one of the D-men hoping to secure a top-six spot.
Even though his name has come up in trade rumors/speculation, Bartkowski is ignoring that talk as he prepares for September’s camp.
“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Bartkowski said during a conference call Tuesday. “There’s no real reason to. I think it’s only just a hindrance to worry about where you’re going to end up and all that. You just prepare for what you can, and the team you’re on, and if something happens, it happens.
“It’s out of our hands, so like I said, there’s really no reason for me to worry about it. I just try to focus on my summer workouts and being as ready as I can for next season.”
Bartkowski made a few mistakes in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, but he’s still a valuable piece of the team’s blue line. He’s a puck-moving D-man who skates well and has good offensive instincts. Those players always will have a role at the NHL level.
At 26 years old, Bartkowski’s game still is developing, and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli hopes to see more progression from the young defenseman next season.
“I thought that when Dennis Seidenberg got hurt, (Bartkowski) was able to come in and play some real solid minutes,” Chiarelli said Tuesday. “He’s the type of player that can really push the puck well. A lot of people remember the couple of blips in the playoffs, but he gave us very good service during the course of the year with Seidenberg out, and it’s a tough position in the League, defense, and there are nuances that the’s still learning, and I expect him to continue to improve.”
Bartkowski has one full NHL season under his belt. He tallied 18 points (all assists) in 64 games during the 2013-14 campaign, then posted one point in eight postseason games. Looking ahead to 2014-15, the Pittsburgh native hopes to become a more consistent player at both ends of the ice.
“I think last year was a good step … but I think going forward, the main thing would be just consistency,” Bartkowski said. “Along the way, I’d have a stretch of games and then maybe a mix-up here or there, which I think is going to happen to maybe not every player, but every younger player in his career.
“If I can work on the consistency, if you can show you can play every night, then anybody should have a long career doing that. So I think just being able to prove that I could do it, and hopefully make some more strides and just be 100 percent consistent, is the ultimate goal.”
With Bartkowski’s new contract finished, the Bruins have four restricted free agents left to sign in Torey Krug, Reilly Smith, Jordan Caron and Justin Florek.
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