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The 2012-2013 Bruins blueline

December 10, 2011

Peter Chiarelli made a savvy little move just before Thursday night’s tilt (and loss) to the burgeoning Panthers: he signed 2011 first round draft pick Dougie Hamilton to an entry-level contract. Dougie’s been tearing the OHL apart since returning from Bruins’ camp. I had the pleasure of seeing him in the preseason against Erie, and did he dominate. Now, he has 12-33-45 point totals across just 30 games. He is on Canada’s WJC preliminary roster, attending camp in Calgary. More than likely he will make the cut (call it a lock).

The move was a wise one. I think it provides the reward of a signing bonus to a burgeoning OHL star who has earned it, and it sets a tone for the future (and future moves). With a $92,500 signing bonus in hand, let’s look to the future of the Bruins’ blueline after this season.

Who departs? My money is on Johnny Boychuk and/or Joe Corvo. More than likely, it’s both. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg aren’t going anywhere, and remain under contract for a good (and in Chara’s case, long) while ahead. Ference also likely remains a Bruins, and given his alternate captaincy, he’s an established part of the core. Adam McQuaid’s resigning, to me at least, signals some permanency. That leaves Corvo and Boychuk, who go UFA. We don’t know if Chiarelli et al. have been in talks with their agents. But Krejci and McQuaid’s quick resigning indicate they’re not a top priority. Joe Corvo struck me as a short-term solution, a bridge. Clearly, the Bruins didn’t feel Kampfer was ready to go top-6 (which sounds absurd when speaking of defense). Joe Corvo was called in for a reasonable rate. Boychuk? He doesn’t smack of franchise to me, and I think he fumbles enough that there won’t be love lost. The Bruins could even trade him before the deadline, given their are lots of franchises who covet his skill and Stanley Cup experience.

Who does that leave on the fringe? Perpetual 7th man Steven Kampfer. I could see him remaining, or traded. I could see him bundled near the deadline, or draft day, something. But I could also see him remaining. After all, the Bruins have held onto him long enough. Wouldn’t they get rid of him by now? I just remain concerned with the lack of game-action he has seen. Hamilton is expected to make a push next year. In any case, should he remain, Kampfer and Hamilton look to redefine the Bruins’ defense corps in the 2012-2013 season.

This should be nothing short of startling and awe-inspiring. Two puck-movers with offensive upside–this isn’t something the Bruins have had in a long time. At the moment, Chara and McQuaid excel at the shutdown role (sure, Chara has his bombs from the point), Seidenberg is the “good first pass” guy, Ference is the everyman, and Boychuk mainly seems to just be scrambling around to get the puck out of dodge half the time.

Based on Kampfer’s work with the Big Club last season, we know he has offensive acumen and speed. His defensive game is still raw, but it will improve. How Dougie Hamilton handles the NHL nobody yet knows. We really didn’t see him in the exhibition season. But at 6’5″, with the tools at his disposal, he should be alright. A new era.

My vision of next year?

Chara-Kampfer

Seidenberg-Hamilton

McQuaid-Ference

The third pairing I am most nervous about, since I don’t know that Ference and McQuaid communicate the best with one another. But I’d like to see the young ones attached to the big guns, with the ability to match Chara with Seidenberg a la 2011 playoffs for ultimate shutdown ability.

Next year’s blueline? Let’s do it.

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