David Warsofsky has spent three-plus seasons in the AHL. (Jared Wickerham, Getty Images)
Being NHL-ready and stuck in the AHL because of organizational depth is tough, but sometimes there’s a solution.
If it were another player, it would be logical to thank the organization for the chance and respectfully ask the team to explore trade options, but it’s more complicated than that with David Warsofsky.
The chances of him cracking Boston’s lineup as long as Torey Krug is around and healthy are remote, but the Marshfield native grew up a Bruins fan and has family here, so the idea of parting with the organization isn’t as appetizing.
“I’ve got a big family around here, and everybody loves coming to the games, so that’s obviously easy for them,” Warsofsky said. “At the end of the day, it is a business, so I think wherever hockey takes me, that’s where it is. Right now it’s Boston, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Warsofsky, who played at Cushing Academy before heading to Boston University for three years, has spent three seasons (parts of four) in Providence since being acquired from the Blues in 2010 for Vladimir Sobotka. In Providence, he’s played his game ‘ that of an undersized puck-moving defenseman ‘ and last season put up 32 points in 56 regular-season games and added nine more in 12 postseason games.
He also held his own in six games last season for Boston, contributing offensively by scoring his first NHL goal in his fourth game on Dec. 28 against Ottawa and assisting of a Chris Kelly goal against the Senators on Feb. 8.
“Obviously to get a couple games in and get that confidence that you can play at that level is obviously good,” he said. “In my head I obviously thought I could play at that level, but the reassurance of coming up here and playing well definitely helped a lot too.”
This offseason, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he includes Warsofsky to be in the group of nine NHL defensemen he feels the Bruins possess. He’s probably right, but as long as Torey Krug is in town and healthy, none of us can be sure.
Both players possess similar size (Krug is listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Warsofsky is listed as being the same height and 10 pounds lighter). They’re both strong skaters and power play assets. Warsofsky, at 24 years of age, is less than a year older than Krug.
With all the defensemen the Bruins have, there isn’t room for that redundancy. Krug has spent the majority of his Bruins career as the team’s No. 5/6 defenseman in addition to his power play responsibilities. Warsofsky isn’t going to leapfrog him.
“It is a tough situation with all the defensemen they have here, and obviously Torey and me play a similar types of game,” Warsofsky said. “I’m just focusing on myself right now, [which] is all I can really do; control what I can control and I’ll see what happens [in training camp].”
So again, a player in Warsofsky’s position might look for opportunities elsewhere, much like how the Bruins have looked at trade options to give Jordan Caron an opportunity to be in an NHL lineup every night. As a restricted free agent this summer, Warsofsky could have tried to leverage his way to another team, but instead happily signed a one-year, two-way deal to stay with the B’s.
‘Obviously I wanted to come back to the Bruins,’ he said. ‘This is my hometown and I want to play for the Bruins for a long time.’
Whether that happens remains to be seen. The Bruins need to make some sort of trade in order to free up space if they want to give Krug and Reilly Smith, both unsigned entry level free agents, respectable contracts. Trading Warsofsky wouldn’t solve any of the team’s cap woes, but including him in a trade would both yield a better return and finally give Warsofsky the opportunity he seems to deserve.