Losing Jakub Zboril Makes Bruins’ Need To Add D-Man More Pressing

The Bruins will be without Zboril, who tore his ACL, the rest of the season

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December 21, 2021

Adding a defenseman already was a need for the Boston Bruins this season.

Losing Jakub Zboril for the rest of the campaign only made that more imperative.

The Bruins on Tuesday announced Zboril tore his ACL on Dec. 2 and underwent season-ending surgery last week. It’s a brutal blow for a player who was having a real nice season.

The NHL is shut down through Christmas and the Bruins, who have 10 players and two staffers in the COVID-19 protocol, aren’t scheduled to play again until Dec. 27. Given that there’s a roster freeze right now, the Bruins won’t be making any external moves to bolster their club in the coming days.

The most immediate move the Bruins seem likely to make will be calling up John Moore when the freeze is over. He’s spent most of the season in Providence but has served that seventh defenseman role in the past. He’ll likely jockey with Connor Clifton and Mike Reilly on a regular basis for the final spots in the lineup. The organizational depth chart, it seems, has Jack Ahcan and Urho Vaakanainen, respectively, behind Moore.

But it already seemed to be on the radar that the Bruins needed to add another defenseman. Just a week ago, we kicked around the idea of Jakob Chychrun, who makes a ton of sense if the Bruins want to go all-in on an impact blueliner. He remains a worthwhile target for Boston, but acquiring him is almost independent of the Zboril situation — ordinarily, you don’t lose a bottom-pairing defenseman and respond by swinging for the fences.

There will be other big-ticket defensemen on the move this season, like Mark Giordano and Ben Chiarot. They might be a little rich for the Bruins’ blood, especially as rentals.

So, then, you’re probably looking at more mid-tier players on expiring deals. Buffalo defenseman Colin Miller, a former Bruin himself, could make sense. Other teams with pending UFA veterans whose playoff chances are dwindling or non-existent include the Chicago Blackhawks (Erik Gustafsson) and Arizona Coyotes (Ilya Lyubushkin). The Bruins could potentially wait out some teams to see if they fall out of the picture. That could make the Detroit Red Wings (Marc Staal and Danny DeKeyser) or Philadelphia Flyers (Keith Yandle, Justin Braun) potential options. However, waiting could be a dangerous game for a Bruins team fighting for a playoff spot.

Zboril was carving out an every night role for himself when he got hurt. If the Bruins are looking to replace that, then a waiver claim might not accomplish much. Jarred Tinordi was a worthwhile add off the wire last season when the Bruins were decimated by injuries, but he was scratched regularly once Boston got healthier. Veteran depth in Providence, such as Aaron Ness and Tyler Lewington, fall under the same umbrella: good to have as a stopgap, but not a solution for the entire season. Thus, trading for more of a regular player might be the most shrewd route.

It’s a brutal break for Zboril, and for a Bruins team that already has used nine different defensemen this season, it means there is work to be done.

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