By Eric Converse
RW Brett Connolly from the Tampa Bay Lightning for 2015 and 2016 2nd round draft picks.
Forward Maxime Talbot and AHL forward Paul Carey from the Colorado Avalanche for Jordan Caron and 2016 6th round pick.
Minor League Deal: C Zack Phillips of the Minnesota for Jared Knight.
With Boston Bruins ownership making public statements that changes could be coming to the front office if they miss the playoffs, the pressure was on GM Peter Chiarelli to make deals to plug up gaps on the right wing, defense, and possibly trade an under-performing core piece for a new top 6 forward.
What the Bruins ended up getting today was quite short of shoring up the many issues with the team. There was no major deal that significantly upgrades the Bruins in to a contender. None of these names wow the casual hockey fan or even the hardcore fan. It is pretty clear the Bruins brass are seeing this more as a bridge year at this point and that they will just see if they can make the playoffs and go for an unexpected run.
I argued that the Bruins should consider trading one top six core forward for another to shake up the general malaise that has set in on these players, but it appears that a deal of that kind was not available today. No teams traded franchise pieces, which has become a rarity in the cap era. Upcoming UFA rental players were available, but that is a huge risk and puts emphasis on winning now with long term consequences. That kind of trade is more beneficial if your team is looking for 1 missing piece to put them over the top. The Bruins are not that kind of team this year. Bigger trades will likely come this summer and maybe Chiarelli, based off of some of the work he did today, is given the chance to dig himself out of the spot he’s put himself and the organization in.
Brett Connolly instantly adds necessary depth to the right wing, with potential for more. His upside will be key to this deal being considered successful. Due to the significant amount of RW depth on the Lightning, Connolly was only earning 3rd line minutes.
Many scouts projected him to be a top 6 forward and it is expected that the Bruins will treat him as such, to give him a chance to produce the way he is projected to. He’s sizable and does add much needed speed. It’ll be interesting to see how they fit him in to the line up right now, especially with Krejci out injured and the Spooner line clicking so well. Maybe Connelly will fill the RW slot for Bergeron and Marchand.
Adding Talbot adds experience and more Stanley Cup pedigree to the 4th line. It helps that Colorado is keeping some of his salary to limit his cap hit. He is showing signs of aging and hopefully joining a more defensively oriented team like Boston will fit his skill set more than the speedy Avalanche.
On a side note, the addition durable Zack Phillips over the often injured Jared Knight will be a solid addition to Providence. Boston native Paul Carey is reportedly a versatile forward who will also contribute to Providence. Each have future 3rd line potential or an offensively oriented 4th line if the Bruins ever go in that direction.
On the negative side, it is unfortunate that the Bruins lost players like Matt Fraser and Craig Cunningham to fill the 4th line spots at a low cost. Chiarelli has mismanaged some of these younger borderline players who signed one way contracts. More two-way contracts should be considered for these kinds of players so they are not lost through waivers for little to no compensation.
Chiarelli made a vote of confidence of his current defense core during today’s press conference, while also acknowledging that the Miller injury makes them weaker this spring. He also insinuated that he did shop for a defenseman, but did not see an available that both fit the Bruins and be here long term. He may not be wrong, but it is disappointing that another experienced D-man could not be added to the team. Bartkowski playing many minutes down this stretch to stay in the playoffs is concerning.
Lastly, Chiarelli continues to blame the cap issues for the situation they are in, saying how much it limits what he can do. Those cap issues stem from his own contracts his gave to the core of players here. His drafting has also been a C to C- at best. He builds a Bruins team built on size and defense and has often drafted smaller skillful forwards that do not end up being a fit in Boston.
If the Bruins miss the playoffs, there is a good chance that Chiarelli is fired by Charlie Jacobs, who seems eager to make his opinion known about the team and is likely itching to put his fingerprints on the team after replacing his father Jeremy Jacobs. Chiarelli put on the appearance that he is unfazed by this pressure, which very well could be true. The worst thing that could have happened is that he made a bunch of trades simply for change to protect his job, which very well could set the Bruins back even more than what they experienced this season.
Hopefully these minor moves today are the first of a makeover for the Bruins that will be further built on with summer trades and free agency signings.
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