Could Bruins embrace a youth movement on defense in 2020-21?

(Photo by Gregory Vasil/Getty Images)

Barring any moves on the trade market, the Bruins' options when it comes to filling in the void left by Torey Krug's departure seem to be dwindling by the day.

While Boston still boasts plenty of young talent on its blue line in the form of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk (an RFA), you might be sizing up the state of this D corps through some rose-colored glasses to think this defense — in its current state — can comfortably replicate its stout showing from the 2019-20 season (2.39 goals against per game).

Even if Zdeno Chara returns in a lesser role and Kevan Miller manages to remain healthy and give you some of the hard-nosed play that's been a staple of his game, Boston is still now missing a legitimate top-four option— a steady, dependable option that Bruce Cassidy and his staff can comfortably roll out for 18+ minutes a night going forward.

But so far this offseason, Boston has sat back as a couple of intriguing options have moved across the league. On the free-agent front, the B's were never players for Alex Pietrangelo, who inked a seven-year, $61.6 million contract with the Golden Knights on Monday. But dependable (or, at the very least, intriguing) left-shot D have also been taken off the board in the last few days, whether it be the steady T.J. Brodie (four years, $20 million with Toronto) or offensive dynamo Erik Gustafsson (a bargain one-year, $3-million contract with Philadelphia). Even on the trade front, the Canucks snagged Nate Schmidt from a cap-strapped Vegas for the steep price of ... a 2022 third-round pick? Sheesh.

So, where exactly does that leave the Bruins, who still are missing — at the very least — a top-four D. Sure, there is plenty of time still for Don Sweeney and his staff to swing a trade if one is out there (likely sacrificing forward assets in the process), but could this B's club, either due to cap constrictions or just pure belief in their prospect pipeline, actually turn to a rookie when it comes to plugging in one of those vacancies on the blue line?

Sweeney didn't exactly rule out such a move when speaking with the media on Saturday: