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The Bruins still haven’t added that ‘transitional’ defenseman they wanted

Don Sweeney Getty

of the meets with the media following the NHL General managers Meetings at the Bellagio Las Vegas on June 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Bruce Bennett

If there was one thing the Boston Bruins were going to do this offseason, it was upgrade their blue line.

“We know that it’s an area that we need to improve upon,” team president Cam Neely said in April. “That’s probably at the top of the list.”

But the Bruins’ blue line hasn’t changed one bit since then. Their search for a “transitional” defenseman lost another candidate this morning when the Panthers traded Dmitry Kulikov to Buffalo. Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski have already been snapped up.

The Blues still haven’t traded Kevin Shattenkirk, but the price for d-men of his caliber is extremely high, according to Boston GM Don Sweeney.

“In all honesty it would have taken both first rounders and then some…the acquisition cost was high. We want to continue to improve our hockey club with whatever we have to do, but it’s not unlike last year when it would have taken all three first rounders [to get a deal done]. There’s a balancing act there,” Sweeney said Friday, per CSN New England. “There was not a lot that moved around today. People have been laying foundation [for trades] for quite some time, but there are players that we’re just not comfortable putting into deals. I’m going to defend that. I’ll be honest with you that I just am.”

It may be that Sweeney’s hoping the Blues lower their price on Shattenkirk, who’s only got a year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Or maybe he targets Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba or Anaheim’s Cam Fowler. But they won’t be any cheaper.

If the prices are too high in the trade market, options in free agency include Brian Campbell (but he’s 37), Dan Hamhuis (he’s not particularly young either), and Jason Demers (arguably the best right-shot UFA d-man, but in no danger of winning the Norris).

“We’ve taken a position where we’re going to build this the right way,” said Sweeney. “We want to be competitive and improve our team, and we’ll be active in the free agent market to fill holes while allowing our young players to push through. But I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak. We’ve been criticized, and rightfully so at times, for being impatient with our younger, skilled players. This represents a good opportunity that we don’t want to do that.”

Related: Jack Edwards says the Bruins’ blue line ‘is in a crisis right now’