The Boston Bruins need to upgrade their blue line before the March 21 NHL trade deadline, and a top-four defenseman who can generate scoring chances would be an ideal target.
Adding a d-man who provides a little toughness and penalty killing wouldn't be too bad, either.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Jacob Middleton is one such defenseman whose name has come up in trade rumors of late.
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TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported an update on Middleton's status during Tuesday night's "Insider Trading" segment, and he mentioned the Bruins among the team's that have shown some interest.
"An under-the-radar name for the Sharks that’s garnering some interest? Defenceman Jake Middleton, who has partnered with both Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns at times this year," LeBrun said.
"He’s part of that penalty killing crew that’s ranked second in the NHL. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of the year, he’s making only $725,000, he’s a bit of an old school physical brand that teams headed to the playoffs like to stash on their roster. Among the teams that have kicked tires I’m told Tampa Bay, Boston and St. Louis."
Middleton, who's listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, plays a physical game and isn't afraid to mix it up and drop the gloves if needed. In fact, Bruins fans got a glimpse of that toughness in October when Middleton fought Trent Frederic in Boston.
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Middleton is the type of rugged defenseman general managers covet as the playoffs near. He'll play heavy minutes against quality competition, block shots, kill penalties and clear traffic from the front of the net. He'll also stick up for his teammates and get under opponents' skin. The Bruins don't have a bad penalty kill -- it ranks 10th in the league with a 81.2 percent success rate -- but there's room for improvement.
The 26-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent in the summer and likely wouldn't cost too much to re-sign.
Middleton would be a pretty good addition for the Bruins as they try to fortify their blue line before the first round of the playoffs.