In this latest edition of Boston News & Rumors, veteran defenseman Anton Stralman has cleared waivers and is now in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Providence Bruins. Meanwhile, shutdown defenseman Derek Forbort returned to the lineup on Tuesday (Nov. 29) after fully recovering from a broken finger that required surgery. In other news, Linus Ullmark seems to be closer to returning, as he served as Jeremy Swayman’s backup during Tuesday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stralman Clears Waivers
When the Bruins placed Stralman on waivers, it seemed quite possible that the 36-year-old would be claimed. Keep in mind Stralman is a 16-year NHL veteran who had a 23-point campaign in 74 games with the Arizona Coyotes last season. With that, he also only carries a $1 million cap hit, so he would have been easy for most teams to afford. Yet, Stralman has instead officially cleared and will remain a part of the Bruins’ depth from here.
Although the Bruins would have benefitted from his cap hit being completely off the books, it isn’t at all bad that he’s sticking around. The 2005 seventh-round pick will be a solid call-up option when injuries inevitably arise down the stretch, and a team can never have enough defensive depth come playoff time. Boston learned that the hard way during their playoff series against the New York Islanders in 2021.
In eight games with the Bruins this season, Stralman has zero points and a minus-3 rating.
Bruins Get Forbort Back
Stralman’s demotion was due to Forbort’s activation off of long-term injured reserve (LTIR). The 30-year-old defenseman was out of action for the last month, but he finally returned to the lineup for Tuesday’s contest against the Lightning. In his return, the Minnesota native had two hits, one blocked shot, and a plus-1 rating.
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Having Forbort is huge for Boston, as the 2010 first-round pick has emerged as the club’s top shutdown defenseman. His steady defensive play and physicality have been missed during his absence. Yet, now that the 6-foot-4 defenseman is back, he will aim to build off of his strong start to the 2022-23 campaign. In 11 games, he has one goal, two assists, 29 hits, and a plus-4 rating.
Ullmark Backs Up Swayman
Ullmark is making progress with his day-to-day injury, as the star netminder served as Jeremy Swayman’s backup against the Lightning. Although there was great concern when he left last Friday’s (Nov. 25) game early against the Carolina Hurricanes, it is clear the 29-year-old goaltender is getting closer to his much-needed return.
Ullmark has been having a Vezina Trophy caliber 2022-23 season. In 16 appearances, he has a 13-1-0 record, a 2.00 goals-against average (GAA), and a .935 save percentage (SV%). With numbers like these, he has been a major part of the Bruins’ spectacular start to the season. It will be intriguing to see if he can maintain this kind of play when he officially returns.
Trent Frederic Returns to the Lineup
Forbort was not the only player to return to the Bruins’ lineup against the Lightning; Trent Frederic suited up after missing two games. It was a solid game for the 24-year-old winger, as he recorded an assist and two hits. Overall, the 2016 first-round pick made an impact in his return, and now he will be aiming to maintain this kind of play.
Frederic has been quite solid for the Bruins all season. In 19 games, the St. Louis native has three goals, four assists, and a plus-10 rating, and while those numbers are slowly increasing, his defensive play has been noticeably better. If he can continue to play this well as the season progresses, he will be a key part of the roster when they make a push for the Stanley Cup this spring.
Craig Smith Still Out
Although Forbort and Frederic returned to the lineup against the Lightning, Craig Smith is still sidelined with a day-to-day injury. It has been a rough season for Smith, whose place on the team’s depth chart has dropped after the arrival of Pavel Zacha and A.J. Greer. As a result, the 33-year-old winger has been a healthy scratch several times, and when utilized, he has not been a huge factor, with three points in 12 games.
Once Smith is completely healthy and eligible to return, he will surely try to turn things around, and there is reason to believe that he can bounce back, as he’s coming off a 36-point campaign in 74 games last season. It will be interesting to see if he can heat up and earn himself a permanent spot in Boston’s lineup in the process. If not, he will continue to be a trade candidate as we get closer to the deadline.
Bruins Win 13th Straight Home Game
With their victory against the Lightning, the Bruins have won their 13th consecutive home game to start the season. This comes after they set the NHL record with their win over the Hurricanes last Friday, and now they will try to build on it when they face the reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Saturday (Dec. 3).
Eventually, perfection at TD Garden will end, but it’s spectacular that they have kept it going for this long. If they defeat the Avalanche, they will then play the red-hot Vegas Golden Knights at home on Monday (Dec. 5). That will also be a very difficult battle to keep their streak alive.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.