By Wayne Whittaker, Boston Bruins Correspondent
With the NHL trade deadline just two weeks away, teams around the league will be looking to make final alterations to their rosters in preparation for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli knows what it takes to win a championship. In his time with the Bruins, the former Harvard Captain has also shown the ability to avoid the hype surrounding his team, and make decisions that have an immediate impact for Boston without compromising their future.
If Boston is in good position to make a possible run at the Cup, Chiarelli has shown a willingness to gamble. There have also been times when it was quite clear the Bruins were in need of more drastic changes, and Chiarelli has shown self-restraint.
Here’s a look back at how Chiarelli and Co. have handled the trade deadline since taking over the front office in 2006.
Boston Bruins final record: 35-41-6, 76 pts. Did not qualify for playoffs.
With the Bruins in complete re-build mode, Chiarelli’s lone trade deadline move in the winter of 2007 was acquiring Aaron Ward from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Paul Mara. Ward went on to play the next two seasons with Boston, and became an instrumental leader in the early stages of re-branding Boston Bruins Hockey.
Prior to the 2009-2010 season, Ward was traded to Carolina where he would play for much of the following season before being dealt once again, this time to Anaheim. The three time Stanley Cup champion retired after the 2010 season and has since become a hockey analyst for TSN.
Final record: 41-29-12, 94 pts. Eliminated in Conference quarterfinals.
Boston made some significant strides in the 2007-2008 season. Under coach Claude Julien, the Bruins were in contention for a playoff spot in early 2008. However, with Patrice Bergeron sidelined indefinitely with a career-threatening concussion, and with an inconsistent core of overachievers, it was quite clear the Bruins weren’t about to end their Cup drought.
Chiarelli assessed the situation, and decided that in order for the team to continue their progression, the surest bet was to allow young players to develop, and continue to evolve the team identity. By standing pat at the trade deadline, Chiarelli sent a message through the Bruins locker room: whatever success the team was going to have, it was going to come from the players who had helped them all season long.
Boston would eventually bow out in an entertaining seven game series against rival Montreal Canadiens.
Final record: 53-19-10, 116 pts. Eliminated in Conference Semifinals.
It was the return of the Big, Bad, Bruins. 2008-2009 saw a surprising Boston squad catch opponents off guard on their way to coming within one point of winning the franchise’s second President’s Trophy. Many in the Hub were expecting a long playoff run, and with that in mind, the Bruins brass started to stack up talent to better increase their odds.
Chiarelli’s first move was to add some defensive depth, acquiring short-term Bruin Steve Montador from Anaheim in exchange for Petteri Nokelainen. However it was Chiarelli’s next move that would go down as one of his best.
Future hall-of-famer Mark Recchi appeared to be in the twilight of his career. After years of much success, Recchi had been middling in two struggling franchises (Atlanta and Tampa Bay). The Bruins were in the market for veteran leadership, and that’s exactly what they got when they traded minor leaguers Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsmus to Tampa for the then 39 year-old Recchi and a second round draft pick.
Recchi would stay in Boston for the remainder of his career, going out on top with his third Stanley Cup championship in the summer of 2011.
Final record: 39-30-13, 91 pts. Eliminated in Conference Semifinals.
Looking to build off their minor playoff success from the year prior, the Bruins were once again expected to contend for a championship- this despite their wildly inconsistent regular season. Still unsatisfied with their blue-line depth, Peter Chiarelli decided to make a few moves that would go on to affect the makeup of Boston’s depth chart.
The big-ticket pickup was Dennis Seidenberg, brought into Boston along with Matt Bartkowski in exchange for Bryon Bitz, Craig Weller, and a 2nd round draft pick. Seidenberg’s immediate impact was minor, however, as he would suffer a season ending injury just weeks after joining the black and gold. The German born defenseman would show his worth during the Bruins championship run the following year.
With a host of injuries derailing their Stanley Cup hopes, the Bruins were left with a bitter taste in their mouth, one that they would look to avoid in the future.
Final record: 46-25-11, 103 pts. Won Stanley Cup.
In the days leading up to the trade deadline, it was clear that the Boston Bruins were all in. Depth at the center position was added with the acquisition of Chris Kelly from Ottawa. Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart were then traded to Atlanta in a salary-cap clearing move that also brought Rich Peverley to Boston.
This was all foreshadowing the “big trade”, which saw Tomas Kaberle come to Boston in exchange for Joe Colborne, and two draft picks.
Interestingly enough, none of these trades actually occurred on the deadline. That day, Chiarelli made some minor moves that would prove inconsequential in their eventual Cup victory.
While the Kaberle trade didn’t work out quite like anyone expected, the Bruins aren’t about to complain, as they would go on to raise a sixth Stanley Cup banner the following Fall.
Record as of 2/13/12: 34-17-2, 70 pts.
Looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships since the Detroit Red Wings of the late 90s, the Boston Bruins have been dispatching critics and opponents alike en route to their league leading +64 goal differential. While Chiarelli would have to feel comfortable going into battle with his current squad, he’ll be looking to make a few last minute upgrades. Namely, defensive depth and secondary scoring.
Possible targets for the B’s include Ray Whitney and Tuomo Ruutu. However, with a thin market and inflated asking prices, it’s difficult to say with confidence that there will be any new faces on Causeway Street come the 27th.