Boston defenseman Jeremy Lauzon will miss at least a month because of a broken hand. Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Boston Bruins took a bold step into their blue-line future when they let both former captain Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug depart. And through 16 games in which they went 11-3-2, it was hard to argue that a mistake had been made.

But now the Bruins must take an accelerated, deeper peer into that future.

Already down Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril, the Bruins announced on Wednesday that they will be without Jeremy Lauzon for at least a month. The second-year player, who has been skating all year on the first defense pair with Charlie McAvoy, underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his hand that he suffered on his first and only shift in a victory over the Flyers in the Winter Classic on Sunday at Lake Tahoe.

The news gets worse.

Kevan Miller, the feel-good story of the season so far, could not practice Wednesday and did not travel with the team for its three-games-in-four-days trip to Long Island and Manhattan. Miller’s knee, operated on four times in the last year-and-a-half, has been causing him discomfort lately, and the team left him home for the Tahoe trip. He practiced Tuesday, but was held out Wednesday.

“He obviously didn’t feel great, from his surgery, so he stayed off (the ice),” said Coach Bruce Cassidy. “We may need to give him a little more time than originally anticipated, and that’s it with Kevan. We knew there’d be a little bit of an unknown, and so far it’s been really good for him. He’s been able to play his style, play hard, not miss much time. But the last few days, it hasn’t been cooperating as much as we’d like, so we’re going to be cautious with it.”

For Lauzon, the injury is a tough break. He and McAvoy had been gaining a level of chemistry through the first quarter of the season and he seemed to be more confident in his own game, playing the physical, stay-at-home role required but also jumping into the play when the opportunity arose.

“He plays hard and he puts himself in harm’s way, so he knows sometimes that will result in injuries for players like that. But this is tough,” said Cassidy. “It seemed like a harmless play when he did get hurt. He’s injected himself into much more violent physical situations. But he’ll work hard. He’ll get back. It sounds like it will be about four weeks or so. There’ll be lots of hockey when he gets back. He’ll have to keep his conditioning up. But of course I feel for him. He’ll be back.”

The good news out of Wednesday’s practice is that Zboril, who missed the last two games because of an upper body injury, was a full participant and Cassidy anticipates that he’ll be ready for Thursday’s game against the Islanders. Also, Grzelcyk, who has not played since Feb. 10 because of a lower body injury and has been limited to just six games, skated on his own and will travel with the team, though it’s unclear if he’ll be able to play.

Zboril will bump up to play with Brandon Carlo on the second pair, and John Moore and Connor Clifton will comprise the third pair.

Meanwhile, Urho Vaakanainen, with a grand total of eight NHL games, will take Lauzon’s spot on the top pairing. Vaakanainen picked up his first NHL point on Sunday and got 23 minutes, 28 seconds of ice time in the 7-3 victory over the Flyers.

“I felt pretty good and felt better as the game went on,” said Vaakanainen. “Obviously when Lauzy went down, we were down to five D, so you’re pretty much on the ice all the time, so you don’t have much time to think. It was a solid, pretty good game, so I just have to keep going from that.”

It was a strong start for Vaakanainen on a big stage. But while he and the Bruins played against a depleted Flyers forward group, the Islanders and their strong forecheck, which gave the Bruins fits in the teams’ last meeting, will present both a formidable test and a great opportunity.

Cassidy has been a vocal supporter of Vaakanainen, saying that the 2017 first-round pick was much more engaged from the start of camp. But his journey is just beginning.

“I would suspect that every game he plays, he gets a little more familiar with the league and it will help him. That’s what you hope that the guys get better as they go along, get a feel for what they can do, build their confidence, understand where the urgency lies in their own game and not worry about who their partner is or what’s going on up front. That’s what Urho will go through,” said Cassidy.

“I think his original games were a long time ago, so this is a little bit different animal for him. He’s been in North America for a few years. He should have a better understanding of the game, he’s been around our group here last year and this year. That part of it I hope will come along quickly. And playing in a game like that (on Sunday) should help.

“But, listen, it’s piece by piece. There’s a reason why they say it takes a long time for defensemen to truly get comfortable in the league. … (Sunday’s game) was basically Day One for him, and he did a good job. He helped us get two points, got on the scoresheet and played big minutes. He was that guy in junior who could go out and pace himself a little bit and play against good players every night, so that’s definitely in his DNA. But we want to make sure the nights he’s playing 15, 16 minutes, they’re a real good 15, 16 minutes played at a top pace. That’s the balancing act we’ll have to do with Urho. But he is a guy, I do believe, that has played bigger minutes in the past (at other levels) and can get out there and do his job.”

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