Bruins Roster Reset: Where Do Lee Stempniak, John-Michael Liles Fit?

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BOSTON — A relatively dull Monday morning for the Bruins gave way to a hectic afternoon as the team acquired two players, retained another and sent three more to the American Hockey League ahead of the NHL trade deadline.

The most notable deadline development for the Bruins was their decision to keep winger Loui Eriksson, an impending unrestricted free agency who was widely regarded as one of the top trade chips on the market. Eriksson and the team could not come to terms on a contract extension, but with no appealing trade proposal materializing, general manager Don Sweeney opted to hold on to Eriksson and continue negotiations as the B’s make their push toward the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Joining Eriksson for that push will be defenseman John-Michael Liles, whom the Bruins acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes, and forward Lee Stempniak, who came over in a trade with the New Jersey Devils. Sweeney expects both to be available for Tuesday’s matchup with the Calgary Flames at TD Garden.

Lastly, the Bruins assigned fourth-liners Zac Rinaldo, Max Talbot and Joonas Kemppainen to Providence, leaving the big club with just 12 forwards on its roster.

So, with all that said, here’s an idea of what the Bruins’ lineup might look like when they take the ice Tuesday night:

Forwards
Stempniak, who now has been dealt at each of the last three trade deadlines, is in the midst of an incredibly productive season after signing with the Devils just a week before the regular season opened in October. The 33-year-old already has tied his career high with 25 assists through 63 games, and his 41 points are his most since the 2006-07 season. He led New Jersey in both categories entering deadline day.

For the Bruins, who have gotten little production from their right wings this season, Stempniak projects as a good fit on the first line, where he’d skate alongside center Patrice Bergeron and left wing Brad Marchand. Boston’s second and third lines have looked solid of late, meaning adding Stempniak to the top unit likely would push Brett Connolly down to the fourth.

Expect to see more Landon Ferraro at fourth-line center with Talbot and Kemppainen out of the picture for the time being.

Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Lee Stempniak
Loui Eriksson — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey — Ryan Spooner — Jimmy Hayes
Brett Connolly — Landon Ferraro — Tyler Randell

Defense
The 35-year-old Liles is a puck-moving, left-shot defenseman, and he’ll most likely make his Bruins debut alongside Dennis Seidenberg on the team’s second pairing.

It’s worth watching how Boston proceeds with 23-year-old Joe Morrow, who’s in the midst of the best stretch of his young career but could be pushed back to the press box as Liles slides into the lineup. Morrow and fellow young guns Zach Trotman and Colin Miller (the latter of whom currently is in Providence) basically have shared one spot on the Bruins’ blue line this season.

Liles has yet to miss a game this season. He had six goals and nine assists in 64 contests for the Hurricanes before being dealt.

Zdeno Chara — Kevan Miller
John-Michael Liles — Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug — Adam McQuaid

Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles

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