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1. Zdeno Chara
At 35, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara continues to be one of the NHL's best defensemen. The 6'9" Slovakian has finished as a Norris Trophy finalist in each of the last two seasons after winning the award in 2009.
Chara will arrive at camp in game shape following a stint in the Czech Republic with the KHL's HC Lev Praha. He will be the Bruins' leader on the ice and in the locker room once again this season.
2. Dennis Seidenberg
Since being acquired by the Bruins midway through the 2009-10 season, Dennis Seidenberg has established himself as one of the league's elite defensive defensemen.
Though he produced just 23 points last season, Seidenberg put his offensive skills on display during the lockout. He led the way for the Germany's Adler Mannheim with 20 points and a plus-15 rating in 26 games.
3. Johnny Boychuk
The 28-year-old Johnny Boychuk came into his own last season with a stellar plus-27 rating on the Bruins blue line.The physical defender with the massive slap shot could see even more ice time this season.
Boychuk played 15 games for Austria's EC Red Bull Salzburg during the lockout, ensuring that he will be ready to go for the new season.
4. Andrew Ference
With just one season remaining on his contract, Andrew Ference could be facing his final season in Boston. He will look to step his game up in his contract year.
After netting his highest point total since 2006 last season, the vocal Ference is set to be a difference-maker in Boston once again. He geared up for the season by playing 21 games with the Czech Extraliga's HC Ceske Budejovice, for whom he played during the 2004-05 lockout.
5. Dougie Hamilton
Rookie Dougie Hamilton will bear the burden of immense hype upon his long-awaited arrival in Boston, but the giant defender has what it takes to handle the pressure.
An offensive dynamo from the point, Hamilton leads all Ontario Hockey League defensemen with 41 points in just 32 games. A physical force at both ends of the ice, he is undeniably NHL-ready and could compete for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
6. Adam McQuaid
Twenty-six-year-old defenseman Adam McQuaid could be in line for a breakout year on the Boston blue line, if he is healthy of course. The big mauler underwent two surgeries during the lockout to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, which caused a blood clot under his collarbone in early October.
McQuaid could be ready to go by opening night but only time will tell if he is prepared to keep up with well-conditioned teammates returning from overseas.
7. Aaron Johnson
The only free-agent addition with a shot to crack the Bruins' lineup in January, Aaron Johnson should see semi-regular action as Boston's seventh defender. He spent last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and will not be expected to make a major contribution in 2013. However, he should do a serviceable job when called upon.
8. Torey Krug
An undersized defenseman with an enormous heart, Torey Krug made his Boston debut late last season. The former Michigan State captain has spent this season with Providence in the American Hockey League.
Despite his small stature, Krug is a gifted two-way defenseman who does a great job moving the puck and is not afraid to deliver a hit. He will crack the Boston lineup eventually. The only question is when.