USATSI_8522617_154158418_lowresDon Sweeney knows it, the team knows it, the fans know it: the Boston Bruins need a defenceman.

There are still some changes in the wind for this team and for good reason, as this is a club that lacks central identity and requires a bit of a tune-up. As our Season Preview explored yesterday, the Bruins are still an excellent hockey club with a lot to offer. But defence is, for all intents and purposes, still an issue.

Sweeney hasn’t closed the door on anything and knows that inking a D-man is worth looking into. On the other hand, there’s the possibility on growing the club from within.

“There are a couple free agents that we still have conversations with that we felt might improve our club if the financial component works, and I’m not going to stop having those conversations because it might be the right thing to do,” Sweeney said on Friday.

This is typical general manager stuff. If the price is right, a deal will be made.

But he still believes in the foundation of the group, which is certainly worth mentioning.

“…we have some younger players that at some point in time have to be given an opportunity if you believe in them,” said Sweeney. “And for me, that’s an exciting part of the game…I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke in any direction that it’s not…Would a coach like to have four guys that have been in the All-Star Game the previous year? Yeah. If he can pencil that in, I’m sure he’s going to say, ‘Let’s check that box right off.’ But at times, it doesn’t happen that way.”

There is always a difference between what a team wants and what’s available, something that’s often lost on hockey fans prone to tinkering fantasy rosters. Sweeney has to work with what’s out there, which could bolster the decision to stick with the group he’s got. That’s a gamble, but it could be a gamble worth taking.

Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, and Adam McQuaid are all pencilled in at this point.

Among the available free agents are Christian Ehrhoff, Marek Zidlicky and Cody Franson. Franson is likely out of the Bruins’ price range and is being aggressively courted by the Penguins, Oilers and even the Sabres, but Ehrhoff could still fit in nicely. He can play big minutes and is a slick skater, which could give the club a one-two punch by adding Krug to the mix.

Right now, it’s a speculation game. Sweeney’s in the market, to be sure, but he’s not about to flip the script. As he says, “We’ve got five players who are returning who have played for your hockey club that had a lot of success, that I think you’ve got a foundation there.”

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