September 26, 2013

2013-14 Bruins Player Preview: Dennis Seidenberg

By Mike Miccoli

HEIGHT: 6-foot-1 WEIGHT: 210 SHOOTS: Left

BORN: July 18, 1981 - Schwenningen, West Germany

DRAFT: 2001 - 6th round (172nd overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers

CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2013-14 ($3.25 million cap hit)

2012-13 STATISTICS: 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points and plus-18 in 46 games.

LOOKING BACK ON 2013

If it was possible to look up the phrase "model of consistency" in the dictionary (and it's not, because I checked) you'd likely find a picture of Dennis Seidenberg. The 2013 NHL season was the same for the German-born defender who has made a knack out of being the best Bruins defenseman not named Zdeno Chara. After spending most of the season paired with Dougie Hamilton, Seidenberg's partners on the blue line shifted a bit once Bruins' coach Claude Julien shook up the lineup. In fact, Seidenberg was paired with almost every other Bruin defender, a testament to No. 44’s reliability.

Never too flashy on the offensive end, Seidenberg's regular season stats were on par with his productivity in seasons past. His durability and shot-blocking tendencies remained strengths as he missed only two games in the 2013 NHL season. Once plagued with injuries when playing with his former clubs, Seidenberg has yet to miss more than two games in his three full-seasons as a Boston Bruin. Over that time, the only other active Bruin to play in as many games is Chara.

Paired with the 6-foot-9 captain in the postseason, Seidenberg served as a shutdown defender, facing off against the top lines of the Bruins' opponents. He did pretty well in that role, too. After missing most of Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the majority of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Rangers, Seidenberg bounced back in time for the Conference Finals, a series which the Pittsburgh Penguins were held to two goals--neither of which were scored when Seidenberg (or Chara, for that matter) were on the ice.

While it's a testament to the level of play that comes from Seidenberg, the blueliner did began to burn out towards the end of the Stanley Cup Final. After playing a combined 104:40 in the first three games of the series (an insane average of 34:54 per game), Seidenberg's play began to slip. In the last three games, No. 44 was an uncharacteristic minus-5, with the defenseman later admitting he was playing hurt. It was a bit of a sour note to end an otherwise solid season on.

FIVE FACTS

1. Acquired at the 2010 trade deadline, Seidenberg was a part of what is considered Peter Chiarelli's best trade. In exchange for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and Tampa Bay's second round draft pick, the Bruins acquired Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski. Bitz went on to play seven games in Florida before being unsigned the following season, Weller never saw any NHL action, and the draft pick, Alex Petrovic, just played in his first six games for Florida last season. The Bruins did OK.

2. Seidenberg continues the tradition of No. 44 being worn by a Bruins defenseman. The last non-blueliner to wear the double-fours? Left winger Davis Payne, briefly, in 1996.

3. Seidenberg has finished in the top three in scoring for German-born players in the NHL for the past three seasons.

4. Seidenberg's T-blade skates are quite noticeable when he's on the ice, but he's not the only NHLer to sport these German accessories. Fellow countrymen Jochen Hecht and Christian Ehrhoff also wear them.

5. Seidenberg's skates have been nicknamed Seidenskates by the Bruins' equipment staff. The drill used to assemble the T-blades? Seidendrill. This is real.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2013-14

The most interesting thing to watch for from Seidenberg this season is how he is able to perform in the last year of his contract. At 32 years old, Seidenberg's current status is a steal -- a cap hit of $3.25 million for a bona fide No. 2 defenseman on a Stanley Cup-caliber team.

This is where it's going to get tricky. If Seidenberg continues to play at a consistent level with no signs of slowing down, he could have a decent payday in store. Since there hasn't been much publicity of talks for an extension, the Bruins could be playing the wait-and-see game with the defenseman. How that impacts his game, however, has yet to be determined.

Seidenberg will also likely be paired with either Bartkowski or Hamilton, once again serving a mentor-type role for the young Bruin defensemen. If the development of either player continues on the upswing, obviously Seidenberg's game will reflect that and even if their growth is stunted at all, the six-foot-one defenseman should be able to hold his own. A true character and role player in the locker room, it should be another 'business-as-usual' year for Seidenberg--not that there's anything wrong with that.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14

Seidenberg's not going to lead the Bruins' defensemen in points, but that's not going out on a limb. What he will do in 2013-14 is become more of a presence on the second unit of the Bruins power-play, especially if paired at all with Hamilton or Torey Krug. Seidenberg is a prime candidate for secondary assists, feeding passes to the open defender on the blue line who cycles the puck to the forwards down below. Factor in 2013-14 being a contract year, and you may see an extra jump in Seidenberg's stride.

PREDICTION: 8 goals, 24 assists, 32 points, plus-15 in 78 games

Twitter: @MikeMiccoli
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