The Bruins got themselves some useful pieces at the NHL trade deadline that will complement a Stanley Cup-winning lineup, but there was nothing of the go for it variety secured on Mondays hockey shopping spree.
That made it a marked difference from exactly one year ago when Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli pulled off three separate moves that brought a pair of key forwards and an All-Star defenseman into the mix. The deals brought depth, speed and versatility that helped them win the Stanley Cup, but things are much different this time around.
This years deadline was an exercise in frustration for Chiarelli and most other teams around the NHL as the market was flooded with interested buyers, but didnt have the appropriate number of sellers providing available talent.
The trade deadline was just about the prices, the inactivity, the reluctance to do things . . . that was the feel I got. Its frustrating, said Chiarelli. Its frustrating when youre making calls and you feel the frustration on the other side of the phone because the guy youre talking to is feeling the same thing.
That was the theme for this year: frustration, but eventual fulfillment. Every deadline is different as far as needs. Last year I think we needed to improve a couple of areas, our depth, two-way play, and our puck moving. I guess this year is depth. But you talk to every team and they always want to improve their depth. In a playoff run, guys go down, and thats just what happens.
Sure the Bruins made a serious run at Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown before word got out that he was being shopped, but there was never any real danger of a big deal getting consummated this time around.
Instead frustration reigned for just about everyone, and the Bruins brought in a versatile 39-year-old forward enduring a rough season with the Islanders (Brian Rolston), a journeyman defenseman (Mike Mottau) that just came back from a stretch of 26 games missed with a concussion and a legit shot-blocking, stay-at-home blueliner (Greg Zanon) that will aid the Bs defensemen corps.
It wont knock the socks off Bruins fans, but employing Zanon and Dennis Seidenberg gives the Bs two of the five-best shot-blockers in the league and allows them to mimic the lane-clogging, shot-frustrating Rangers efforts to block scores of offensive chances if the mood strikes them.
None of this years acquisitions will have the impact of last years crop of hockey trades, and that means the team is rolling the dice again this year with the teams nucleus. Chiarelli was unwilling to move any players off the current roster, flat refused to include Dougie Hamilton in any deals and wouldnt deal talented roster players like Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask or David Krejci.
That didnt leave much in Bostons hockey asset cupboard and didnt give Chiarelli much to wheel and deal with. Instead it will be up to skilled young players like Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Lucic and Patrice Bergeron to carry an offense regardless of what the team gets from Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley moving forward. Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Marchand are the only three players averaging more than .5 points per game during 12 games during the month of February, and no Bs player is even approaching a point-per-game pace during the past month of ennui-filled hockey.
It will be up to Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask to regain the form that made them the best 1-2 goaltending punch through Christmas. It will be up to Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and their new group of eight veteran NHL defensemen to hold things together defensively.
In the end Chiarelli decided that the 18 returning roster players from last years Cup championship deserved another shot at a Cup run without any major upgrades in any department. Rolston, Mottau and Zanon add up to better reserve options than Carter Camper, Max Sauve and Andrew Bodnarchuk when the inevitable injuries and ineffectiveness hit the Bruins.
Bergeron said last week that the Bruins players didnt need any saviors to rescue them this season, and the teams management has backed up that stance from one of their key leaders. Perhaps the Bruins could have traded for marginally better talent in Antoine Vermette or Johnny Oduya, but those players wouldnt be difference-makers on this Bruins team.
Youre gonna have to spend in player trades to acquire players, but the deals just werent there, said Chiarelli at the trade deadline. They werent there. Its as simple as that.
If the Bruins are to win another Cup this season it will be because the Bs best players once again used good health, good fortune and two months of good hockey to finish at the top of the NHL heap.