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Bruins defensemen to be tested at training camp

Could be without five of eight at position who played in playoffs last season

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

BOLTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins defensive depth will be tested from the start of training camp.

John Moore had shoulder surgery in June with a projected recovery time of 4-6 months; Kevan Miller had two knee surgeries at the end of the regular season and is unlikely to be available for the start of camp on Thursday and Zdeno Chara said last week his recovery from offseason elbow surgery may limit his participation.

Restricted free agents Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy remain unsigned meaning the Bruins could be without five of their eight defensemen who played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

"Listen, it's a hypothetical right now. I think I can answer that better once we get going," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said at their annual golf tournament at The International. "But at the end of the day as a coach, you coach the guys that are there. Listen, that's the business side of it, I hope [Carlo and McAvoy] do well, get what they deserve and after that get them in the lineup ready to go.

"I don't think any coach would tell you, or even players, that they want guys to miss. You want your team, you want the guys you're working with, especially if they're healthy. Guys that aren't healthy, John Moore for example, he's not going to be with us to start, but we'd like to have the other guys. If they're not there, then guys like [Connor] Clifton, maybe [Urho Vaakanainen], guys that play the right side will get a better look."

Video: 31 in 31: Boston Bruins 2019-20 season preview

McAvoy led the Bruins in average ice time per game last season (22:10). Torey Krug was second (21:18), Chara was third (21:05) and Carlo was fourth (20:55).

Boston defensemen missed 164 man-games to injury in last season. Miller missed the entire 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Boston's other defensemen missed 19 man-games.

However, the Bruins finished tied with the Calgary Flames for second in the NHL standings with 107 points and were within one game of winning the Stanley Cup, losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games.

"You know 'next man up' was the mindset all year and I don't think it changes," Clifton said. "The leadership group is just so easy to follow, honestly. Whether you're young, old, it doesn't matter, those are the guys you want to be with and battle with every day and I think that's just how it is."

The Bruins are determined not to let McAvoy and Carlo's contract situations affect them.

"You know we'd like to see those guys as soon as possible," center Patrice Bergeron said. "That being said there's things that you can't control and that being one of them. So for us it's about whenever they show up, be ready to welcome them but at the same time hope for the best and right now we have to concentrate on who we have and make sure we're building and getting ready for another great season."

Added Bruins general manager Don Sweeney: "Again, I have no timeframe on when the (deals) will be done. I've said all along I believe we'll find a deal at some point and time. And I've also said I'd rather it be sooner than later. Not going to change my stance on that but it's just how every negotiation is different."

NHL.com independent correspondent Heather Engel contributed to this report

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