Looking back and ahead: Dennis Seidenberg
|05.29.12 at 8:47 pm ET|
With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.
2011-12 stats: 80 games played, 5 goals, 18 assists, 23 points, plus-15 (career-high)
Contract status: Signed through 2013-14 season ($3.25 million cap hit).
Looking back: Seidenberg followed his best offense season (career-high seven goals and 73 points) with another solid campaign for the B’s, playing on the second pairing for the Bruins once again and posting the best plus-minus of his career.
Seidenberg’s rating didn’t come close to that of his postseason partner (Zdeno Chara had a plus-33), but consider that Seidenberg spent most of the season paired with Joe Corvo, who struggled in all areas of the ice but was especially turnover-prone, leading to scoring chances for opposing teams.
The German defenseman enjoyed his second straight healthy season, as 2011-12 was the second consecutive campaign in which he played at least 80 regular-season games and every playoff game.
In the playoffs, Claude Julien reunited Chara and Seidenberg to make a shutdown pairing, much like he did with great success in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run. Seidenberg had a modest plus-1 rating in the Bruins’ Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Capitals, but was arguably the best player on the ice for the B’s in the first round. Given that the pairing played against Washington’s first line, Seidenberg got to know Alexander Ovechkin very well through a series of big hits and collisions.
In the end, the Bruins didn’t get a chance to see how the Chara-Seidenberg pairing would fare against other opponents, and while there was plenty of blame to go around for the Bruins’ first-round failure, it would be hard to place any on Seidenberg.
A productive 2011-12 season goes down as the latest piece of evidence that teams didn’t fully understand what was there when Seidenberg remained unsigned as training camp for the 2009-10 season began.
Looking ahead: Seidenberg has two years remaining on his deal, and given what a well-conditioned athlete he is and the fact that he’s gotten better with age, the Bruins won’t want to see him leave.
He’s an absolute steal at $3.25 million annually, making his contract signed following the 2009-10 season easily one of the best deals Peter Chiarelli has pulled off since coming to Boston. The trade to get him certainly worked out for Boston too, as Chiarelli got Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-round pick.
Next season, Seidenberg will likely remain on the second pairing during the regular season, separated from Chara until the postseason. The question is who he will have as his defensive partner. The Bruins figure to have a different mix of blueliners next season, as Greg Zanon, Corvo and Mike Mottau are all free agents and Dougie Hamilton should be a safe bet to make the team out of training camp.
If Hamilton shows early on that he can handle the workload, perhaps the Bruins could trust the former ninth overall pick with Seidenberg. Hamilton projects to at the very least be a top-six defenseman, and once he gets comfortable in the NHL after a season or two, the idea of having Chara, Seidenberg and Hamilton (plus Johnny Boychuk) would make the Bruins’ defense stellar regardless of who else is there.