The Boston Bruins — unable to acquire the “transitional” defenseman they were seeking — have turned inwards in their search for improvement.
“We plan to upgrade our D with our play on the ice,” head coach Claude Julien said today, per CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty.
To do so, Julien expects youngster Colin Miller to take a big step in his development. The 23-year-old came to the Bruins as part of the Milan Lucic trade with Los Angeles. He’s put up big numbers in the AHL, but hasn’t quite established himself in the NHL.
Per Haggerty, Julien believes that Miller has “the package” to become a consistent, high-level defenseman; however, in order to so, he needs to cut down on the “reckless” plays.
Earlier this month, Bruins GM Don Sweeney spoke about the expectations for Miller.
“We expect him to come out of the gate strong,” Sweeney said. “He had a good offseason. He had some challenges toward the end of the year where he was up-and-down, came back and reinserted himself and then went back down [to Providence for the AHL playoffs].”
If Miller can progress into the kind of puck-moving defenseman the Bruins hope, a trade for an established, right-shot d-man like, say, Kevin Shattenkirk becomes less necessary.
The Bruins do have a number of other promising defensive prospects, including Charles McAvoy, Jakub Zboril, Brandon Carlo, and Jeremy Lauzon. But those four are all still teenagers, so it’s going to take time before they’re ready to make an impact in the NHL.
Miller can make an impact this season, and that’s what the Bruins are hoping, and expecting.