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Working with limited cap availability, the Bruins made several moves before the trade deadline. Some fans were left scratching their heads as to why Chiarelli has made these moves. We will break them down one by one.
Let’s start with the not-so-goods.
Waiving Craig Cunningham:
I understand clearing out roster space for potential deals, even with the risk that the deals may not come together, but waiving Craig Cunningham was the wrong move. The Bruins have already went through this with Matt Fraser, which makes this move even more baffling. Brian Ferlin, who has performed well, could have been sent down without being subject to waivers. The Bruins brass could have figured things out after the deadline, as far as roster juggling goes. Unfortunately, another young talent from the Bruins been claimed, and was let go for nothing.
Not acquiring a defensemen:
The hope going into the deadline was that the Bruins would acquire a top 4 defensemen. The Bruins were linked to Jeff Petry (now a member of the Canadiens) and Zbynek Michalek (now a member of the Blues), but nothing ever came to fruition. The prices for the rental defensemen proved to be too steep for the Bruins, who did not want to give up any more draft picks after the Connolly deal. As these options slowly disappeared by the hour, the expectation was that the Bruins would acquire a depth defensemen for the stretch run (think Corey Potter, Mike Mottau). They didn’t do that either. Now Peter Chiarelli will have to rely on Matt Bartkowski in a top 4 role for the rest of the year and the playoffs, with Morrow, Trotman, or Warsofsky coming in as the 7th defensemen for the team later on in the year.
Not exactly an ideal defense core.
Boston Bruins trade Jared Knight for Zack Phillips
This is a pure “change of scenery” move that may benefit both sides in the end. Jared Knight was selected 32nd overall in the 2010 NHL Draft and never lived up to his hype. He has dealt with injuries every season and never seemed to have a permanent place in the Providence lineup. Zack Phillips was selected 28th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft and he should benefit from this trade as well. He’s not particularly a good skater but was a lethal offensive weapon coming out of the QMJHL. The hope is that he’d be able to find his scoring touch again by playing in a system that fits his style of play extremely well. He will report to Providence.
Boston Bruins trade Jordan Caron, Ben Youds, and a conditional 2015 6th round pick to the Colorado Avalanche for Maxime Talbot and Paul Carey
After losing character guys like Boychuk and Thornton from the locker room, something was missing from this team. It’s not like they didn’t have good character guys, but the passion, grit, and attitude were nowhere to be seen for a good chunk of the season. Maxime Talbot can bring some of that back to this team.
Talbot’s not here to score goals or make spectacular plays. He’s here to be a positive influence in the locker room and lead by example, setting the tone for each game. He won’t impress you in any areas, but a little attitude can’t hurt this Bruins team right now. Talbot has been an effective pest and a bottom-six forward for great teams over the course of his career, and he won’t change here. I’d assume he will be used in penalty killing situations as well, which is always needed.
Another great thing about this trade is that Colorado retains 50% of Talbot’s salary this season. This makes Krejci’s return during the regular season possible, which may be critical down the line, as the Bruins may have to play some meaningful games. That was a good move on Chiarelli’s part.
Paul Carey also seems to be a “throw-in” on this deal, but he may develop well in the Bruins system. May seem ambitious to use the word “develop” for a 25 year old, but I think the potential to be a 4th line center for the Bruins is there for him. If anything, he will be part of a healthy competition for the spot next year. For now, however, he will report to Providence.
Boston Bruins trade 2015 2nd Round Pick & 2016 2nd Round Pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Brett Connolly
If you asked anyone if they could trade two 2nd rounders for a #6 overall pick, you think they would do it? Of course they would. That’s what happened in this trade, with Connolly coming for a pair of 2nd round picks.
Brett Connolly hasn’t quite developed into the player that Tampa Bay was hoping for when they snagged him 6th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He has struggled to maintain a level of consistency at the NHL level, going through many cold streaks that prompted the Lightning coaching staff to take playing time away from him (11:56 TOI this season). Ultimately, with the boatload of talent at the wings, they decided to trade him away to create more playing time for stud prospects Jonathan Drouin and Vlad Namestnikov.
Connolly brings great puck skills and hockey sense to the Bruins, along with a lethal shot. There are defensive deficiencies, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. If he can bulk up and use his size to his advantage, he may fulfill his potential of being a top 6 forward in the NHL. The Bruins may try to plug him in with the Swedes initially, then perhaps with Krejci once he returns. He is an exciting project.
Connolly is a restricted free agent at the end of the season, so the Bruins will have control of his future as well. He’s just still only 22 years old. The potential is there.
The Bruins didn’t mortgage the future this season and decided to go with their core for the stretch run. They didn’t trade for any rentals and acquired players that can help them beyond this season. Whether this approach will pay off for them is still unknown.
This also leaves the Bruins with three extra forwards for the NHL roster once everyone is back and healthy. This should create an awesome competition for playing time. If a player doesn’t give it his all one night, there will be another forward waiting to replace him. This may light a fire on the Bruins’ forwards, which for the most part, has been lackluster this season.
Time will tell for the Bruins. With the trade deadline in the past, how they react to Chiarelli's trust in them will be exciting to watch down the stretch.
Read more from Andy Hwang by clicking here. Find him on Twitter on @andyhwang05 and follow @BruinsLife for all Bruins news and updates.