BOSTON, MA - MARCH 01:  Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period at TD Garden on March 1, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Bruins defense still needs some work


This is part of Boston Bruins day at PHT…

The Boston Bruins were able to add a quality veteran this off-season, as they signed David Backes to a long-term contract.

The addition of Backes gives the Bruins another quality forward on their depth chart, but it didn’t solve their biggest need.

Since the end of the 2015-16 season, Boston’s front office has been openly talking about the need to add a transitional defenseman. Unfortunately, the off-season plans fell through.

“We know that it’s an area that we need to improve upon,” team president Cam Neely said in April. “That’s probably at the top of the list.”

St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk was reportedly available via trade, but the Blues haven’t parted ways with him. Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski, who were both scheduled to become free agents, never hit the market and signed elsewhere.

So, where do the Bruins go from here?

Unless they can swing a deal soon, they’ll have to ride with the players they have.

Zdeno Chara isn’t the player he once was.

The 39-year-old is still effective and can contribute, but the heavy workload he’s accustomed to might be too much for him to handle.

Torey Krug, who signed a four-year, $21 million extension with Boston earlier this off-season, will be the team’s go-to puck mover. The 25-year-old scored four goals and 44 points last season and the B’s will either need him to replicate those numbers or improve them.

Boston also has a pair of defensive defensemen in Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller. Both are physical blue liners that don’t bring much when it comes to moving the puck.

The Bruins have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. On both occasions, they were knocked out in the final weekend of the regular season. If they want to take the next step and make the playoffs (and maybe go a round or two), they’ll need to address their defense.

Most of the teams in the Atlantic Division have a puck-moving defenseman that can provide offense from the back end. The Bruins have Krug and Chara, but where do those players stack up against some of the defenseman in the division?

The Lightning have Victor Hedman, the Panthers have Aaron Ekblad, the Canadiens have Shea Weber, the Ottawa Senators have Erik Karlsson, the Red Wings have Mike Green, the Sabres have Rasmus Ristolainen and the Maple Leafs have Morgan Rielly.

Yea, the Bruins need some work.

Poll: Will the Bruins end their two-year playoff drought?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 07:  Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Matt Beleskey #39 and teammates after scoring against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at TD Garden on April 7, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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This is part of Boston Bruins day at PHT…

The Boston Bruins haven’t made the playoffs in the last two seasons and they’re hoping that they’ve done enough this off-season to change that.

The biggest acquisition of the summer was David Backes. The 32-year-old signed with Boston on July 1st, after spending the first 10 years of his NHL career with the St. Louis Blues.

In terms of offensive production, Backes’ best days are likely behind him, but that doesn’t mean he won’t contribute at all. The veteran center scored 21 goals and 45 points in 2015-16.

Backes gives the Bruins a solid one, two, three punch down the middle with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci also on the depth chart.

The three centers will have help from Brad Marchand, Matt Beleskey, David Pastrnak and a few other solid wingers.

Having Tuukka Rask between the pipes should also help.

So that’s the good news. Now, the bad…

The Bruins wanted to add a puck-moving defenseman. They tried to acquire Backes’ former teammate, Kevin Shattenkirk, from St. Louis, but no deal was struck.

Unfortunately for Boston, they didn’t only miss on Shattenkirk, they also whiffed on every one of their targets (on defense). They might be able to acquire someone between now and the start of the season, but as of right now, they’ve come up empty.

It looks like the Bruins will have to rely on an aging Zdeno Chara to play big minutes again. Torey Krug will also serve as a key puck-mover for Boston. The Bruins have John-Michael Liles and defensive defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller. Rounding out the defense will be Colin Miller and Joe Morrow.

They’re also a little lighter on the wings, as Loui Eriksson left for Vancouver in free agency.

There’s certainly a lot of questions surrounding the Bruins in 2016-17.

Has Boston done enough this off-season? Will the Bruins be able to overcome their deficiencies on defense? Can they break this two-year playoff drought with the current roster?

It’s Boston Bruins day at PHT

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 05:  Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring against the Washington Capitals during the first period at TD Garden on March 5, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The offseason started early for the Boston Bruins, as they faltered down the stretch and ultimately failed to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

Despite once again missing the post-season, Claude Julien retained his job, with general manager Don Sweeney giving his head coach a vote of confidence in their end-of-season press conference.

Free agency is where the Bruins made headlines this summer.

They bid farewell to Loui Eriksson, the 31-year-old right winger who cashed in with the Vancouver Canucks after scoring 30 goals and 63 points last season. Boston did add former St. Louis Blues captain and center David Backes to a five-year deal worth a total of $30 million.

They also had plenty of interest in college free agent forward Jimmy Vesey, who is from North Reading, Mass., and played four years at Harvard. It could’ve been the perfect story — local Hobey Baker Award winner signs with the Bruins after opting to become a free agent following his college career — but instead Vesey decided to take his talents to the New York Rangers.

Now, where the Bruins wanted to improve their team this summer was on the blue line by bringing in a puck-moving defenseman. However, such an addition has yet to materialize.

There is still time before training camp gets underway, but so far the biggest moves on defense for Boston have come from buying out Dennis Seidenberg and re-signing Torey Krug to a four-year, $21 million contract and veteran John-Michael Liles, who was acquired at the trade deadline.

Bruins add Leach, Whitfield to AHL coaching staff

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 22:  Trent Whitfield #42 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 22, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers won the game 4-3 after a shootout.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Boston has added a pair of coaches to Kevin Dean’s staff in AHL Providence.

From the club:

The Bruins have hired Jay Leach and Trent Whitfield as assistant coaches of the Providence Bruins. Leach and Whitfield will serve on the coaching staff of head coach Kevin Dean, who was named to his position on July 18, 2016.

Leach will be working primarily with the team’s defensemen while Whitfield will work primarily with the team’s forwards.

Leach, 36, most recently served as an assistant coach in AHL Wilkes-Barre. Prior to coaching he enjoyed a lengthy, journeyman career that included 70 games at the NHL level.

Whitfield, 39, is a familiar face, having suited up for both Boston and Providence during his playing career. He spent last year behind the bench with WHL Calgary.

Providence College product Schaller saw opportunity to play with Bruins, but challenges lie ahead

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 15:  Tim Schaller #59 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on January 15, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/NHLI via Getty Images)
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After spending the last three seasons in the Buffalo Sabres organization, Tim Schaller wasn’t going to resist the opportunity to sign with the Boston Bruins.

A product of Providence College, the now 25-year-old Schaller, a center who provides size up the middle at six-foot-two-inches and 219 pounds, signed a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level with the Bruins as a free agent at the beginning of July.

“We had probably about 10-12 teams calling on one day,” Schaller told the Boston Globe.

“About halfway through the phone calls, Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins called. At that moment, I almost told my agent, ‘Why take another phone call? Why not just say yes to the Bruins right away?’ It’s a good opportunity to have to play in Boston. All the numbers worked out perfectly to where it was impossible to say no to them.”

The move helped to provide depth up the middle for the Bruins.

Schaller has put up decent numbers in the minors, with 43 points in 65 games with the Rochester Americans in the 2014-15 season. In 35 NHL games with Buffalo, he had two goals and five points.

However, earning a spot on the Bruins roster could be difficult.

They have centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, who had off-season surgery, Ryan Spooner and the additions of Riley Nash and David Backes as free agents.

Backes can play wing in addition to center.

“Boston was a good fit,” said Schaller. “We think I’m better than the prospects, so we thought it was a good fit. Hopefully I can beat out a bunch of guys for a job.”