By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- As rare as it is for a restricted free agent to switch teams, it appeared to be the only option for the Boston Bruins to acquire a top-pairing defenseman that could be a long-term anchor on the blue line. Unfortunately, those options are beginning to disappear.
Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic told Mike Chambers of the Denver Post that he is not trading 24-year-old blueliner Tyson Barrie, who was set to become a restricted free agent on July 1. Barrie has developed into one of the league's premier offensive defensemen and has the kind of mobility and puck-moving skills that Bruins GM Don Sweeney could be looking for in what he termed a "transitional" defenseman in his season-ending press conference.
The Barrie news comes days after Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Winnipeg Free Press that he's not "trying to trade" defensive stalwart Jacob Trouba, who is also set to become a restricted free agent and was also the subject of trade rumors. Trouba's size, physicality, and defensive acumen would have made him an ideal Bruin for Claude Julien's system, but it was a longshot in the first place to expect him to move.
But hey, he said he's not "trying" to trade Trouba - not that he wouldn't do it.
There are still options for the Bruins to acquire a high-end defenseman via restricted free agency, or trade for their negotiating rights before the draft. The St. Louis Blues' Kevin Shattenkirk is one of the most talked-about possibilities - but that's mainly because the Bruins aren't the only team that would love to have his services. The Oilers, Coyotes, and Sabres could also be in play, according to Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Anaheim Ducks have a deep corps of talented young defensemen and probably can't keep them all long-term. This would make Sami Vatanen the most likely candidate to move. Vatanen has a high hockey I.Q. and would certainly be the transitional blueliner Sweeney so covets, but he is undersized and may not bring enough ability in his own end to improve the defense in the way they really need.
On the un-restricted free agent front, defenseman Alex Goligoski was set to hit the open market but the Dallas Stars traded his negotiation rights to the Coyotes, according to Elliotte Friedman.
With limited recourse to acquire a top-two defenseman between now and the fall, the Bruins have always needed to do something bold and rare to make it a reality. Their already-slim chances are rapidly diminishing.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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