After suffering through two consecutive playoff-less years — both by the narrowest of margins — the Boston Bruins decided they needed to make some personnel changes on the backend, and one of the first to go was veteran rearguard Dennis Seidenberg.
Seidenberg, 35, was halfway through his four-year, $16-million deal with the Bruins when he was bought out, and even though the veteran was once a key part of a Stanley Cup championship club, he remains unemployed with training camps only weeks away. It’s a situation Seidenberg didn’t see himself being in and one that hurt him, he told the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, but that doesn’t mean Seidenberg is giving up hope.
“I’ve kind of turned the page,” Seidenberg told Shinzawa. “But then again, my family’s still in Boston. They started school in Boston. So you always think about something you’re still with but you’re not. So it was something that was obviously disappointing. But it doesn’t really matter right now. I have to go into this tournament, play my game, and hopefully something comes up.”
However, as the season draws ever-closer, it seems as though if Seidenberg is going to find himself an NHL job, he’s going to have to do so by way of a professional tryout contract. It’s not that Seidenberg is inept — he made Europe’s World Cup roster for a reason — but the fact is he has struggled to keep up as the game around him has gotten quicker. And it’s not as if the situation currently facing him couldn’t have been seen coming.
From the Bruins’ Stanley Cup victory in 2011 until this past season, Seidenberg watched his job slowly slip away. He averaged more than 27 minutes of ice time per game during that playoff, and was consistently above 23 minutes per night in the regular season. That continued into 2011-12 and 2012-13, during which he skated 24 minutes and 23:47 per game in those respective seasons. But in the past few years, his minutes have dwindled to the point he only saw the ice for 19:23 per game in 2015-16.
Seidenberg’s body has been beat up over the past few seasons, too. Since signing the four-year deal with Boston in October 2013, Seidenberg has been forced to miss 87 games — more than a season’s worth of action. Worse yet, most of his trouble has been with his lower-body and back. That is the worst-case scenario for a defender in a league that’s growing quicker by the minute.
The worst of Seidenberg’s injuries have been the back and knee ailments. The most severe came in December 2013 when Seidenberg suffered a right knee injury and had to go under the knife. He missed 56 games, including 12 playoff outings, before making his return. There was no break for him, however. In October 2015, before he could even get his feet under him in time for the 2015-16 season, Seidenberg hit the shelf with back surgery and missed 14 games to start the season.
Seidenberg’s list of ailments works against him almost as much as anything. It’s a scary proposition to sign a veteran player who could simply end up on the shelf because of his past injuries. But if he was taking on a limited role for a team in need of a depth defenseman, teams could do much worse than bringing in Seidenberg.
Seidenberg will likely get his chance on the second- or third-pairing for the European squad, and he’s going to have to make something notable happen to really turn some heads. Through two exhibition games, the European team was overpowered by the North American youngsters, beaten soundly in both games by a total score of 11-4. Continued poor defensive showings by the European squad won’t do much to help Seidenberg’s case.
There are no doubt options for Seidenberg when it comes to finding a deal, but those are likely all overseas at this point. Landing an NHL deal, though, will be up to what Seidenberg shows at the World Cup, and he appears to be well aware the chance to continue his NHL career could be riding on his performance.
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