By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins appear poised to add a dynamic right-shot defenseman to their lineup next season. A smooth-skating, creative blue liner who can impact power plays and spark rushes all by himself.
They also have Charlie McAvoy.
In case you haven’t heard, the Bruins could be looking to sign an additional right-shot defenseman on top of McAvoy, in the form of prized free agent-to-be Kevin Shattenkirk. Pierre McGuire reportedly said on TSN Radio Tuesday night that he expects the 28-year-old to end up in Boston after free agency begins on Saturday, July 1.
If Don Sweeney signed Shattenkirk, a Connecticut native who played college hockey at Boston University, he’d certainly be adding one of the league’s most productive offensive defensemen.
He’d also be making a mistake.
While McGuire’s speculation is far from a guarantee, he’s probably hearing whispers – and the fact that it’s even a possibility should not excite you. There are multiple reasons why Shattenkirk would be an unwise signing for Sweeney, a redundant and superfluous move for a defense that’s still rebuilding and does not need to add a roadblock.
One of the main reasons is Shattenkirk’s likely price tag, which would probably be a long-term deal worth something close to Kris Letang’s $7.25 million annual cap hit in Pittsburgh. The only player who should be getting $6 million-plus from the Bruins right now should be David Pastrnak.
Another reason is positional need. The Bruins already have at least three right-shot defensemen in their top-six, assuming that Brandon Carlo sticks with Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller (or perhaps Adam McQuaid) pairs up with Torey Krug. McAvoy should be paired with a left-shot defenseman who can cover his own end responsibly, not another right-hander who can be a defensive liability. You could ignore these things if Shattenkirk were a transcendent talent; he is good but not that good.
Yet another reason is the Bruins’ deep well of defensive prospects. Granted, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Matt Grzelcyk, and Rob O’Gara are all lefties – but that’s all the more reason that if Sweeney signs a free-agent defenseman, he’d be better served with a left-shooting stopgap who would commit to shorter money.
As a big, reliable, inexpensive left-shot option, the Capitals’ Karl Alzner would be a borderline perfect signing for their needs. The Sabres’ Dmitry Kulikov is coming off a poor season in Buffalo and isn’t the most consistent in his own end, but would also be relatively cheap and have a chance to be a solid partner for McAvoy.
Shattenkirk seemed like a much more attractive potential acquisition for the Bruins two, even one year ago, when McAvoy or Carlo were unknowns. Now that McAvoy looks like the No. 1 defenseman of the future and Carlo looks like a solid shutdown blue liner, Sweeney would be best suited building around the kids rather than in spite of them.
The Bruins do have key needs and Sweeney has some real tasks on his hands in the coming months, but signing Shattenkirk should not be one of them.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.