It’s all about next year, and I’m OK with that.
Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli could have gone multiple directions before Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. He chose to keep his cool, under the pressures of having his job security questioned by many people outside the organization.
And for a team that could very well get into the playoffs this year, the idea of overpaying for help must have been a tempting one.
Instead, Chiarelli acted like a GM whose job was not on the line. He played his cards like a man who was confident he’d get a shot to fix his mistakes in the offseason. Those mistakes included trading defenseman Johnny Boychuk for draft picks just days before the start of the regular season, and refusing to bring back veteran tough guy Shawn Thornton.
Boychuk, a top-four defenseman, is pretty much everything “Bruins hockey” stands for. A tough, physical, defensive-minded shot-blocker who has a big shot of his own. He wasn’t a liability with the puck on his stick, and his leadership off the ice was perhaps greater than anyone on the outside would have ever imagined.
Chiarelli never replaced him. And in the process, the B's defense has looked as bad as it’s ever been under coach Claude Julien.
Thornton didn’t provide the same skill-set as Boychuk, but his valuable leadership in the room spoke volumes, to the point where Chiarelli decided to add some veteran leadership by trading for veteran Max Talbot on Monday.
The 31-year-old Talbot is also under contract for next season, for just $1 million. And that’s what this trade deadline for the Bruins was all about: next year.
Chiarelli also acquired 22-year-old right-winger Brett Connolly from Tampa Bay, in exchange for two second-round picks. Connolly was the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft, which saw some pretty good players taken in the first round— Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Johansen, Jeff Skinner, and Vladimir Tarasenko to name a few.
Could Chiarelli have out-bid Detroit by giving Dallas a first-round pick for veteran winger Erik Cole? Sure, but that would have been a panic move. And it would not have won the B's a championship.
Chiarelli didn’t panic at the deadline. The moves that he made — and didn’t make — show me that he’s committed to fixing the Bruins in the offseason, and putting a competitive team on the ice in 2015-16, which still has many -- but not all -- of the major pieces it takes to make a legitimate playoff run, if healthy.
He's committed to the Bruins contending for a Stanley Cup next season. And I’m ok with that.
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