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Matt Bartkowski is one of nine NHL-caliber defensemen the Boston Bruins currently have in their organization. He signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract over the summer, and said in July that he’s not focusing on his future or trade speculation.
“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Bartkowski said. “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.”
2013-14 Stats: Zero goals and 18 assists in 64 games played
Contract: One year left, $1.25 million salary-cap hit
What He Will Bring The Team
Bartkowski is a mobile defenseman with good puck-moving skills, a hard shot from the blue line and decent passing ability, and he could play the point on the second power-play unit if needed. He’s not much of a goal-scoring threat — zero goals in 84 career NHL games — but he does a nice job starting the rush up ice with accurate passes out of the defensive zone.
Weakness That Must Be Improved
Bartkowski doesn’t have one glaring weakness but rather a few areas that need improvement. He needs to be a littler smarter on the ice — he had 28 giveaways and took bad penalties at times last season (including five penalties over the first three games of the Round 2 series versus Montreal). Bartkowski also should be more aggressive in the attacking zone and look to create more offense (he totaled 91 shots last season). He has a great shot from the point and needs to use it more often.
Expected Role For 2014-15
Bartkowski is part of a group — which includes Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid, David Warsofsky — that will battle for third-pairing minutes and one of the final spot(s) on the NHL roster during training camp and the preseason. Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug (if he signs) are locks to make the team as it stands now, and that leaves one blue line spot open unless the B’s decide to carry seven defensemen.
Of the four D-men mentioned above, Miller is the best fit for the third pairing. He brings valuable toughness and penalty-killing ability, and he has a cap hit of only $800,000 — the smallest on the team among D-men, per CapGeek.
Bartkowski will need a fantastic training camp and preseason to earn meaningful ice time this season.
Projected 2014-15 Stats: Two goals, 14 assists in 60 games played
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