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Position Battle: Fifth and sixth defensemen
Likely Participants: Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, Joe Morrow
The Boston Bruins have a problem most teams would love to have, and that's an abundance of talented young defensemen who are all ready to play an important role at the NHL level.
Unfortunately for these young prospects, the Bruins already have four veteran defensemen occupying six starting spots on the blue line, including captain Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid.
The players with the best chances to win a third-pairing role are Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton.
Krug enjoyed a breakout postseason last year with four goals in his first five games, while also playing strong defense and moving the puck well. He also brings an element of speed and mobility that the Bruins currently lack on the blue line.
Hamilton has tremendous size—6'5", 199 pounds—and offensive skill. He's a future No. 1 defenseman and needs NHL experience to develop the defensive aspect of his game. Playing alongside a veteran such as Chara or Seidenberg would benefit him greatly.
Matt Bartkowski is another NHL-ready defenseman, but he's not better than Krug, and Hamilton has more potential. It's too bad, because he's definitely ready for a full-time NHL role, but there just aren't enough open spots on the Boston blue line.
The likely scenario for Bartkowski and Joe Morrow is playing first-pairing role in the AHL for the Providence Bruins.