Kevan Miller

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Larynx injury to keep Bruins’ Kevan Miller out five weeks

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A scary play during Monday night’s game between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will keep defenseman Kevan Miller out of action for five weeks after he was hit in the throat with a puck.

Late in the first period, Miller blocked a John Tavares shot that then saw the puck roll up his stick and hit him in the throat. He would finish the shift before leaving the game and spend the night in a Toronto hospital where a CT scan showed a cartilage injury to his larynx. Doctors confirmed that upon his return to Boston when he was re-evaluated.

It’s another blow to a Bruins’ blue line already banged up. Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, and Urho Vaakanainen are currently out of the lineup. Miller had missed 13 games with a broken hand before Monday’s meeting with the Maple Leafs. Brandon Carlo, who has been out the last eight games with an upper-body injury, participated in Wednesday’s practice and could return Thursday vs. the New York Islanders.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Seidenberg says trade rumors were ‘a slap in the face’

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Suffice to say Dennis Seidenberg wasn’t happy about hearing his name in trade talks this summer.

“If I had heard it from the GM then I would have been concerned, but the thing that bothered me was that people even talked about it. That’s kind of a slap in the face. It means you’re not playing your best, and you obviously want to play to a level where people don’t question you,” Seidenberg told the Boston Herald. “On the other hand, you have to focus on your own game and not worry about what people say. If it comes from the top, then you have to be worried about it, but I’ve never heard anything.

“I’ve read it and I saw it, but at the end of the day, I have to focus on what I have to do.”

Seidenberg, 34, is coming off an up-and-down campaign, his first full season since tearing his ACL in ’13-14. His play, age and cap hit — $4 million through 2018 — led many to speculate he could be on his way out of town, especially with the B’s pressed so close to the cap ceiling.

Trade fires were further stoked when, just prior to March’s trade deadline, Seidenberg said he’d waive his no-trade clause if asked. A few months later, he again responded to trade rumblings, this time insisting he wanted to stay in Boston.

Since then, much has changed on the Bruins’ defense.

Dougie Hamilton was traded to Calgary, Matt Bartkowski signed in Vancouver and when the dust settled, Seidenberg emerged as a key component of a defense that looks to be comprised of himself, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Matt Irwin.

So now, the veteran German rearguard can focus on taking those trade rumors and using them as fuel for a bounce-back campaign.

“You never like people to write those kinds of things about you,” he said. “It just means that you have to work harder and do better.”

Bruins’ biggest question: Is the blue line good enough?

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It was no coincidence that the Bruins missed the playoffs after trading Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders in October.

Boychuk’s departure left a big hole in Boston’s top four, one that became even more pronounced when Zdeno Chara was injured a short time later.

Now consider that young Dougie Hamilton is gone from the B’s, too. Last season, Hamilton led all Boston d-men with 42 points in 72 games, while logging an average of 21:20 per game.

Minus Boychuk and Hamilton, the Bruins have been left with Chara, who’s 38, Dennis Seidenberg, who’s 34, plus Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Matt Irwin, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, and Colin Miller.

Of those nine defensemen, only two — Chara and Seidenberg, neither young anymore — have ever averaged more than 20 minutes per game in a full NHL season.

Hence, the ongoing speculation that GM Don Sweeney will sign a veteran free agent, someone like Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff, or Marek Zidlicky. (The B’s were believed to be in talks with Mike Green, before he signed with Detroit.)

But regardless if that happens or not, expect the Bruins to make some tweaks to their system.

“At times, we probably got a little bit too stationary on our breakouts,” Sweeney said, per the Boston Globe. “We need to be in motion a little bit.”

Of course, for any system to be successful, it needs the right horses. And as it stands today, the Bruins’ stable of defensemen is more questionable than it’s been in quite some time.

Related: Vote on whether the Bruins’ Stanley Cup window has closed

B’s among five or six teams in on Franson, who’s ‘sick of doing one-year deals’

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One of the biggest fish left in free agency says more than a few lines have been cast his way.

Cody Franson, the 27-year-old UFA defenseman that’s still yet to sign, says he’s been speaking with five or six teams about possibly signing — a group that includes the Boston Bruins.

“With the trade they made with [Dougie] Hamilton and some of the other stuff they’ve done, they’re one of the teams that we’re in talks with,” Franson told TSN 1040 Vancouver on Tuesday. “Boston would be an interesting spot. It’s obviously an awesome city, and they’ve got a great organization and all those things that come with it.”

It’s not surprising Boston’s in the mix. The club’s blueline has been badly depleted since going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 — gone from that team are Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference and Matt Bartkowski. That’s left the B’s in a rather precarious spot; if the season started today, Boston’s top-four would be comprised of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid.

Zach Trotman, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow and Matt Irwin would (presumably) be battling for spots Nos. 5 and 6.

Franson’s also a good fit to replace Hamilton. Both are rangy, right-hand shots with offensive upside… thing is, it might not work financially. The Bruins have just under $5 million in available cap space, and it sounds like Franson is looking for a deal with a fair amount of money — and something more long-term.

“Obviously, I’d like to get something a little more than one year,” he said. “I’m sick of doing one-year deals.”

Per an earlier report from PHT’s Dhiren Mahiban, it’s believed Pittsburgh and Buffalo are also interested in Franson.

McQuaid camp ‘holding out hope’ to re-sign with Bruins

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New Bruins GM Don Sweeney has some decisions to make on the blue line.

As of now, the B’s only have four of their defensemen from the past season under contract: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug, and Kevan Miller. They have one big restricted free agent to sign in Dougie Hamilton, but that’s expected to get done somehow.

One of their unrestricted free agents is Adam McQuaid. The 28-year-old said last month he “can’t picture” moving on from Boston. But that may not be his call.

“We’re holding out hope [to get something done],” McQuaid’s agent, Paul Krepelka, tells CSNNE.com. “He’s a good fit here [in Boston].”

The other UFA on defense is Matt Bartkowski, who just so happened to be the subject of a speculative piece in today’s Vancouver Province. (The Canucks are, of course, led by GM Jim Benning, who knows Bartkowski well from his time in Boston.)

But it’s McQuaid that has the larger history with the B’s. He was a young depth defenseman on the 2011 Stanley Cup champion team, providing size and toughness behind an excellent top four of Chara, Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, and Andrew Ference. He played a similar role in 2013, when the B’s lost to Chicago in the final.

McQuaid is the kind of player that would seem to match the Bruins’ plans to get back to their aggressive ways. On the other hand, after being asked to play a larger role this season following the departure of Boychuk, he definitely had his struggles.

It begs the question — if the B’s choose to bring him back, what role do they envision him playing? Because the top four may be too big of an ask.

“I guess time will tell,” McQuaid said in April. “I’ll wait and see if it comes to [hitting free agency], and then obviously you have to go down that avenue.”