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What’s the Point?

Posted By Matt Preston On Mar 29 2013 @ 4:39 pm In Boston Bruins | 2 Comments

Wednesday night.

It was supposed to be brilliant. Diner Wednesday, International Whiskey Day, the Boston Bruins were playing the Montreal Canadiens, Family Dinner and Trivia Night. Not to mention the fact all the paid experts had the Bruins acquisition of Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla all but immanent.

It was as though my birthday had come a week early.

A sinking feeling hit my gut late in the evening as Peter Budaj relieved Carey Price in the Montreal net to start the third period with the Bruins leading 4-2. The Bruins ended up losing in a shoot out and while Iginla was headed east later that night to wear Black-and-Gold, it was not going to be in Boston, as the future Hall-of-Famer opted to go to the Pittsburgh Penguins instead.

Not only was the guy who was going to deliver the title to Boston not going to be suiting up for the Bruins, but he went to the team considered by some to be the only team in their way of returning to the Stanley Cup Final.

Should have known better than to think the night of a full moon was going to be all sunshine and rainbows.

Not time to cry over spilt milk, though. That has already been done [1]. All that can be done now is try and figure out what the Bruins need to do in the next five days before the April 3rd trade deadline to contend with the Penguins?

It was not that long ago it could have been argued the Bruins did not need to make a move in order to have a good shot at making it to the finals. They just needed improved play from the team’s current roster. Now, however, thanks to the Penguins strengthening their already loaded roster with the acquisitions of Iginla, Brendan Morrow and Douglas Murray, it is hard to believe Boston has a legitimate shot of overthrowing the Penguins without major improvements. The only problem is what moves are out there for the Bruins to make?

Morrow and Iginla were the top two names on the market, and both were in the Bruins grasp before losing out to Pittsburgh. Does the move to put the Bruins over the top even exist?

While it is never good to fall in love with just a name, Iginla fit the Bruins’ forward need perfectly. A tough, experienced winger with a wealth of goal-scoring ability who can play anywhere in the lineup. Who amongst the players rumored to still be available fits that mold?

After Morrow and Iginla, the third player named to be in the Bruins sights is San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe. Rumors of the 30-year old winger coming to Boston began to surface earlier in the season as the Sharks play began to dip and they faded in the West, while the Bruins third line struggled to find any sort of consistency. Somewhat fitting the prototypical mold of the Big, Bad Bruin, bringing in a player like Clowe might have made sense early on to anchor the bottom part of the forward rotation, but at this point the top of the Bruins offense needs as much help finding a spark as the bottom and Clowe just does not help that need.

While the impending unrestricted free agent’s 11 assists would make him the sixth best assist man on the Bruins, Clowe has been battling a shoulder injury for much of the season and has yet to find the net in 27 games played. Not the cure all for the Bruins.

Could Clowe be used? Sure, especially with the injury to Chris Kelly, but what is the asking price?

Ageless wonders Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr of the Dallas Stars have come up at different points in time, as well, but are not the most intriguing of names. While Whitney’s skill set might fit in nicely on the Bruins’ third line, the 40-year old seems to finally be showing his age, playing just 16 games this season, recording five goals. Jagr is a more intriguing name, as the 41-year old Czech does not seem to be slowing down. His 14 goals and 25 points this season would tie him for first and second on the Bruins in those categories, not to mention the pleasant idea of pairing him with Czech national team line mate David Krejci.

More importantly, his special teams experience and six power play goals (which would also rank first on the Bruins) might be enough to spark Boston’s lowly 23rd ranked power play, which currently operates at just 15.6% rate. The rumors of late, however, are Jagr is currently in talks of a contract extension with the Stars. While that alone does not eliminate him from trade talks, it certainly raises the asking price.

The forward name linked to the Bruins that I find to have the most intriguing upside is Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere. Briere might not be the Hall-of-Famer to be Iginla is, but he does fit the mold of what the Bruins would have hoped to do with the former Flames captain. He has power play experience, the ability to play both center and wing, as well as anywhere in the top nine, just what the Bruins are missing. On top of that, Briere has always been a player who seems to come alive in the postseason, with 50 goals (13 game-winners) and 108 points in 109 career playoff games. Unlike Iginla, Briere also would come to Boston with two years and just $5 million remaining on his contract.

Sadly, the fact he has not scored a goal since February 18 is not the most frightening thought when it comes to making a trade for Briere. The asking price from the Flyers would more than likely be higher than most deals given the years remaining on his contract and Philadelphia still being mathematically in playoff contention. Briere, who has not skated since March 18, was also declared out indefinitely on Monday with a concussion. Certainly not the kind of things you want out of a player who you are pinning your Stanley Cup on.

Prices will be high on any of the few skill players who are moved between now and the deadline and it is more than likely those “skill” players will not be players a team might be heartbroken over missing out on. Is giving up some combination of prospects and/or draft picks worth the risk of a goal-less player like Clowe, aging super star like Jagr or the recently concussed Briere? Even if they are worth the asking price, is it enough to make this team better than Pittsburgh?

In the end, from an offensive perspective, unless there are better sources out there with some more intriguing names that are available at a reasonable price, the best bet for general manager Peter Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien is probably to stick with what they have and do everything they can internally to get their offense back to the form it is capable of when the likes of Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic were scoring 30 goals a year and it finished second in the league in goals per game just a season ago.

While not the caliber of players of Jagr, Iginla, Morrow or Briere, some help is on the way in the form of Kaspars Daugavins, claimed off waivers from the Ottawa Senators earlier in the week, and Carl Soderberg, leading score of the Swedish Elite League this season, who was rumored to finally be headed to North America for the first time since being acquired in a trade by Boston in 2007 once his season in Sweden comes to an end.

They might not be enough to put the Bruins over the top, but the two should be enough to give the backend of the Bruins lineup something of the spark it has been looking for all season. If nothing else, it is the safer bet for the Bruins than to mortgage the future and pay a king’s ransom for nothing more than either over the hill or spare parts.

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[1] That has already been done: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2013/03/28/iginla-spurns-bruins/

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