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Trade Deadline Preview…?

Posted By Matt Preston On Feb 20 2011 @ 4:49 pm In Boston Bruins | No Comments

The assignment: Come up with an analysis of your take on what your team’s game plan should be for the NHL’s impending trade deadline.

Thank you, Peter Chiarelli, for throwing a wrench into that simple plan with all the dealing you did last week.


At least you finally got your man, Petey.

What I really should be thanking Chiarelli for, though, is setting up this nice little game we all get to play, where we get see who makes the better general manager: Chiarelli, the man who actually holds the post for the Boston Bruins, or the ever plucky, Little Matty Preston, the guy who just wishes he had the job?

Over the course of the last six days, Chiarelli made a slew of deals, shipping a second round pick to Ottawa for center Chris Kelly, packaging Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart and sending them to Atlanta for Rich Peverley and minor league defenseman Boris Valabik in a salary dumping move to clear space for his coup de gras, sending prospect Joe Colborne and Boston’s first round pick in 2011 to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle, the man Chiarelli has been trying to bring to Boston since rumors of shipping Phil Kessel out of town began prior to the 2009 NHL Draft. Boston finally has their elusive, puck moving defensemen.

While deals can still be made, thanks to Kaberle, the Bruins are back up against the cap, with something around $1-million, $1.5-million to spare, so it seems that anything of significance has already been done. I can’t see there being a big market place on any of the expendable parts of the Bruins line-up with big cap numbers (Ryder, Ference), nor can I see Chiarelli moving one of the Bruins younger chips with any real trade value (Krejci, Rask, Toronto’s 2011 pick), all of which means I no longer need to look foolish predicting things that may have never come to pass. Now I get to look foolish analyzing things that have already happened instead.

In a vacuum, the three trades are solid and do improve the Bruins. Kelly and Peverley add depth at center and strengthen the back end of the forward lines, adding the grit that Wheeler never seemed to display despite his size and tremendous upside in terms of skill. Kaberle instantly makes Boston’s 14th ranked power play better, an area the Bruins will need to be stronger come playoff time, and will also help coach Claude Julian ease his over-reliance on Zdeno Chara and take some of the burden off the Slovak. The Bruins are no doubt better than the team they were six days ago and they were able to do so without giving up anything significant off their NHL roster and without moving anything too damaging to the long-term future of the team.

Kaberle does add a needed element to this team on the power play, while the scrappy Peverley should add a good blend of toughness and scoring punch that many hoped for from Wheeler and Kelly allows Julien to keep Tyler Seguin on the wing and away from the pressure of center as the 19-year old continues to develop; though it remains to be seen whether the rookie or Daniel Paille will be the odd man out of the line-up. That said, while I like Chiarelli’s aggressive nature and willingness to part with the younger prospects and picks that he covets to make a big trade splash, if the GM had given me the chance to write my Trade Deadline Preview, Tomas Kaberle is not the big splash I would have made. That elusive, puck moving defenseman is not going to end up being the missing piece the Bruins need to give them the inside track to a Stanley Cup Final.

The big splash the Bruins needed to make come on the February 28 Trade Deadline was not on the backend, but on the front end. The play for an elite, goal scoring forward would have been the direction I would have gone. Being able to break the puck out of the defensive zone and up ice is great, but it is not going to do a team any good if they have no one to put the puck in the net. Even with Boston’s balanced, all-round scoring attack, the handful of players they have having career years and the fact they bolster one of the best 5-on-5 offenses in the league, I still just don’t trust any of the Bruins forwards to be reliable when the playoffs roll around and every team steps up their defensive pressure. With Nathan Horton currently failing to live up to expectations and a lot of their key offensive players being young, raw and unproven, coming across a proven sniper to give the Bruins offense a legitimate scoring threat would have give the Bruins a much more sound, intimidating, playoff offense.

I will be interested to see what scorers change sweaters over the next seven days. I certainly don’t believe the rumors that have been floated about town about Rick Nash being on the move from Columbus and I think adding Brad Richards from Dallas would have been just adding an element to the Bruins they already have to their game. There was an interesting rumor circulating a week back about the Capitals potentially moving winger Alexander Semin, which would have been a player that would be extremely interesting in the Bruins line-up, but I don’t see the Caps letting go of their other Russian sniper. Big Dustin Penner of the Oilers is a player that could move over the next week and, while not the elite scorer that makes a fan base salivate, does fit the model of big, bruising scorer with playoff experience that could benefit the Bruins, but Penner would have to be supplemented by moves to acquire players of a similar ilk.

There may not be a huge pool of snipers the Bruins should be in the market for come the deadline, but with the number of high picks and prospects Chiarelli had at his disposal, reasonable expiring contracts and the cap space provided by the Savard injury, the Boston GM had everything he needed to go out and acquire any available player he wanted, which he did. But, is Tomas Kaberle going to be the player to push the Boston Bruins to the promise land?

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