If not exciting, today has certainly been newsworthy for Boston Bruins fans. As the NHL trade deadline approaches, General Manager Peter Chiarelli and the B's front office have actually been fairly active for a change. The Chris Kelly for a draft pick deal wasn't thrilling by any means, but Kelly's got 12 goals this year and will likely play on the second penalty kill line, so I'd gladly put him in the lineup over Paille.
Today, things picked up though as the Bruins and Maple Leafs have confirmed a deal that sends All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle to Boston for prospect Joe Colborne (the Bruins first round pick in the 2008 draft), along with Boston's first round pick next year. An additional second round pick will be sent to Toronto if the Bruins negotiate a long-term deal with Kaberle or if they advance far enough in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.
At first glance it seems as though Boston gave up a lot to get a player who is only signed through the end of this season. That may prove true if the B's bomb in the playoffs, but either way I still like this move. As far as the pick goes, Boston has Toronto's first round pick next year from the Kessel trade anyway, which will be a better pick than the one traded back to Toronto today.
Joe Colborne? Well, he could turn out to be an amazing player, who knows. But the fact is, the Bruins already have a young core nucleus signed beyond this season. Nathan Horton (14 goals, 36 points) is just 25 years old, and is signed for two more seasons beyond the current one. Milan Lucic is having a career season (24 goals, 40 points), is just 22, and is also locked up through 2012-13. There's a backlog at Colborne's position (center) as well. David Krejci (41 points) is just 24, and is under contract through the end of next season. Patrice Bergeron, still just 25 himself, signed a 3 year extension a few months back. Another center was brought in via trade today who is also under contract through next season, which I'll get to in a minute. Tyler Seguin, with any luck, will blossom into a scoring center in the future. Zach Hamill is waiting for a shot down in Providence as well. Even if Marc Savard never returns, which is a possibility, center is not a position of need for Boston.
So, that's why I think the pick and Colborne were expendable. Now, why do I actually like the trade? Well for years (since the early 90's) Bruins fans have been dealing with mediocrity. There were a few horrible seasons, but more often than not, especially lately, the organization puts together a solid team. There have even been some extremely successful regular seasons. But the team seems to come up flat on the biggest stage, in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They have a habit of becoming dull for stretches, almost nauseatingly boring in a way that can be so aggravating to watch that at times I'm surprised they have any fans left at all. The fans have been clamoring for change. It's all you've heard on sports talk radio here for weeks. Enough of solid seasons and a well stocked minor league system. We want success. 40 years is too long between Cups for an organization with this kind of history. So I'm glad to see the team deal for Kaberle, who so far is arguably the best player to be moved at all.
In order to clear cap space for Kaberle, the Bruins made another trade earlier in the day, for Atlanta Thrashers center Rich Peverley:
I have to say that I like this move as well. From the few Thrashers games I've watched I've always been impressed with Peverley's speed. He'll make a solid third line center behind Bergeron and Krejci, is relatively young (28 years old), and is signed through next season. Also coming from Atlanta to Boston is young defenseman Boris Valabik. I'll confess that I know next to nothing about him, although by coincidence I do have his Upper Deck Young Guns rookie:
The Bruins in return sent defenseman Mark Stuart and forward Blake Wheeler south to Atlanta. I have to say that losing Mark Stuart is the one tough pill to swallow from today's moves. I always liked Stuart, while not a "puck-moving defenseman" or an offensive threat from the blue line, he was a very physical defender that could clear the crease, and always played hard, including through injury whenever possible. The pain is eased though by the fact that he'll be replaced by Kaberle in the defensive rotation.
As far as Blake Wheeler goes, I join the chorus of Bruins fans around New England that are relieved to see him go. After a tease of a first season, where he, David Krejci and Michael Ryder were the hottest line in hockey for a couple of months, he has been about the least exciting player you could imagine. He doesn't score a whole lot, and doesn't seem to get involved physically.
Maybe this will be one of those deals that works out well for both teams. Wheeler certainly has the ability to be a goal scorer, he's shown it before. But it was becoming increasingly clear that for whatever reason that was not going to happen in a Bruins uniform. I could be wrong about this but I believe his contract is up at the end of this year as well.
I wish Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart success in Winnipeg...I mean Atlanta...and I'm excited to see tonight's game against Ottawa as Kaberle will apparently be in uniform for Boston.
Now, the Bruins are still 1 million dollars or so under the cap. If they could trade the first round pick they have from Toronto for next year, along with say Michael Ryder and bring in a top-notch goal scorer (cough cough, Brad Richards, cough cough), then I'd consider them a threat for the Cup. As it stands now, even an Eastern Conference Final would be great (hasn't happened since I was 10).
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