All of a sudden, the Boston Bruins are looking a little thin at the blue line.
Sure, Jakub Zboril is trending towards returning soon, and so too is Matt Grzelcyk. But the loss of Jeremy Lauzon to a fractured hand, which will keep him out at least four weeks, is a tough blow for the player and team.
So, what now?
It sounds like Zboril is closer to a return than Grzelcyk. Assuming Zboril is available Thursday against the New York Islanders, the Bruins will have him, John Moore and Urho Vaakanainen as options on the left side. Connor Clifton also can play on his off side, as well.
When Grzelcyk is back, he could fit in on either of the top two pairings.
Basically, it’s a lot of pieces with no clear vision of how they’re best put together.
One thing we would like to see: Vaakanainen with Charlie McAvoy on the top pairing.
In an ideal world, the smooth-skating, 2018 first-round pick blossoms into that top-pairing guy and with McAvoy forms the top combo for years to come. Even if it’s partially out of desperation, why not give it a shot now?
For one, it might be useful baptism by fire for the 22-year-old Finn. He’s been baking in the AHL for a little while now, and putting him with McAvoy could provide him with a great opportunity to stake claim to a roster spot and prove he belongs in the NHL.
Such a situation also would disrupt things the least when most everyone else is back. Grzelcyk would just go back to the second duo with Brandon Carlo, while Zboril is on the third pairing with either Clifton or Kevan Miller. Moore becomes a spare, and there’s also some depth with Steven Kampfer, as well.
The Bruins are all-in on the youth movement this season, and thus far it’s worked. When they drafted Vaakanainen, the hope obviously was that he could be a top-pairing guy. Why not give that a whirl now and go from there?