Now that the dust has settled for roughly 24 hours, it’s time to chime in on the day that seemed like the actual NHL trade deadline.
Ten days before the official final horn blows on making deals, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli made a splash, or two, that should have had the fans of The Hub even more excited for the 2010-11 playoffs.
Instead, I’m hearing a bit more negativity with the trades and acquisitions that the Bruins brass have pulled-off yesterday with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Atlanta Thrashers.
First, even though we all know this by now: the B’s dealt forward Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart to Atlanta in exchange for forward Rich Peverley and 6-foot-7 defenseman Boris Valabik…and in another deal snagged puck-moving defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto for 6-foot-5 prospect forward Joe Colborne, the Bruins first-round draft pick in this upcoming draft, and a conditional second-round pick in this year’s draft (if Boston makes the Stanley Cup Finals or Kaberle re-signs at the end of this season).
I am not alone in being an advocate and fan of these trades; these fine fellows are on board as well. But the one move that is causing quite the debate, especially on the radio, is the deal with the Leafs. I’ll take this one step at a time (the Atlanta deal coming later) and rage against thy naysayers.
1. I’m hearing a lot of chatter, especially on this Kaberle deal, proclaiming the Bruins gave up too much in acquiring the blue-liner. “Jumbo” Joe, who overnight turned into the future second-coming savior of the Bruins’ organization, will eventually become an NHL star…plus a first-round pick…and what if Kaberle doesn’t re-sign.
- Colborne is a big kid with a lot of upside, true. But when was the last time a prospect, a first- or second-round pick helped the Bruins win a Stanley Cup? He was about No. 7 or 8 on the Bruins’ center depth chart (behind the four in Boston, plus Maxime Sauve, Zach Hamill and Jamie Arneil) and hasn’t really set the world on fire in Providence this season either.
- First-round picks are rarely “can’t miss” selections. Brian Lawton and Alexander Daigle were first overall selections that were “can’t misses”. But the Bruins’ first-round pick next year (in a depleted draft) can’t be higher than No. 22 overall and — for all the draft-pick-fanatics out there — keep in mind they still hold Toronto’s first-rounder…
- I don’t think Chiarelli would have made this move without having an inclination that he had a chance to re-sign Kaberle. Something tells me he’s going to re-sign him prior to the NHL’s July 1 free-agency date. If, and I think when, Kaberle gets inked, Boston still holds Minnesota’s second-round pick from the Kobasew trade last year. And if the Bruins happen to win the Cup this season and No. 12 walks, then either way it’s all worth it.
2. The Bruins are near the top of the NHL charts in goals-for, but barely crack the top-half in power play percentage. Kaberle will help on the PP, but isn’t a great 5-on-5 defender.
“I’ve never thought of Kaberle as a defensive liability. He is always deliberate and careful when he has the puck. He moves the puck and controls the puck somewhat “slowly” but his head is always up, looking ahead for the perfect target to hit.
His biggest skill is moving the puck up the ice, especially in powerplay situations. He has a knack for making the perfect up-ice pass or carrying the puck up himself when necessary. Another speciality of his is intentionally shooting wide or threading a perfect cross-ice pass for a wide-open one-time goal from a forward in the slot (his favourite target a few years back was Darcy Tucker. Those two hooked up for countless easy one-time powerplay goals).”
- Is this move going to catapult the Bruins as the league’s best power play team? Maybe not. But what it does is solidify an anchor, a quarterback, for the Bruins PP — 22 of his 38 points this season (all assists) have come via the PP. It also takes Mark Recchi off the point and back in front of the net where his “office” has been for the last decade, and adds more experienced depth on the backend.
- A veteran of nearly 900 NHL games with over 500 points, the 32-year-old is a plus-player. For an All Star who has spent his entire career in Toronto (some very good, some awful teams) that speaks volumes of his game.
3. Kaberle is soft and it will make the team less physical…softer.
More from Kavanaugh
“At 6’1″, 215 lbs he’s not a small guy, but his style of play is not physical by any stretch. Any bodycheck he does make is to attempt to separate a player from the puck or slow him down. As crazy as this sounds, I can’t remember many times I’ve ever seen a Kaberle hit knock a player down.”
- So it looks like the verdict is out there, especially with losing Stuart (more on the ATL deal later) but this Bruins team did not need to get more physical, it needed a defenseman like Kaberle.
- This is still a Boston team that has 56 fighting majors — second in the NHL — and employs sandpaper on the backend like Adam McQuaid (11 fights), Andrew Ference (4), and the always-intimidating Zdeno Chara, as well as tough forwards in Shawn Thornton(13), Gregory Campbell (8), Milan Lucic (3), and to a lesser extent, Nathan Horton.
So there you have it folks, quid pro quo…tit for tat. In order for your team to acquire what they need to fill holes, they’ll also have to spend to get it. Prospects and draft-picks don’t win Stanley Cups: proven players do.
For people who lynched Chiarelli in the past for standing pat at the deadline should be on their feet applauding the general manager for having the stones to make such moves, wanting to win it now.
The best trades that are made are those that help both clubs. And this is a perfect example of aiding inToronto’s future while helping Boston snap their 38-year drought.