By Mike Miccoli, Boston Bruins correspondent
A top-nine forward, a puck-moving defenseman, a skater with speed who can finish; all qualities of players that the Boston Bruins were targeting on the day of the NHL trade deadline. The 3 PM cutoff came and went with only two major acquisitions: the departure of Derek Morris for a 2011 4th round draft pick and the arrival of Dennis Seidenberg for Byron Bitz and a 2010 2nd round draft pick originally belonging to Tampa Bay.
So, what exactly did the Bruins do on the trade deadline?
“There were some players out there and we were in on a couple, more than a couple,” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli in his afternoon press conference with the media. “I guess at the end of the day, I just wasn’t in a position to give what they wanted.”
Aside from a swapping of a few draft picks and prospects, the major names exchanged for the B’s were Morris, Seidenberg and Bitz. Bitz was slowly becoming a disposable player, dressing in only two of the Bruins’ last eight games with his last goal scored on December 30, 2009, the last time the Bruins have won at the TD Garden. Trading Derek Morris to Phoenix was obviously meant to rid Boston of his $3.3 million salary giving the green light for a bigger move out of Boston. We’ll leave the fact that only a 4th round pick was nabbed in return alone…for now.
When Seidenberg and his $2.25 million cap hit was brought into Boston at around noon on Wednesday, many Bruins enthusiasts thought this was a great move. And why not? Seidenberg is a bit of an improvement over Morris with very similar stats and came with a cheaper salary making another move seem plausible.
Not so fast.
The Bruins’ only move appeared to be a lateral one adding a puck moving defenseman, but getting rid of another strong blue-liner along the way, perhaps the best defenseman on the team not named Zdeno Chara. Scoring, the team’s biggest weakness, was not addressed, though Chiarelli claimed that he had “targeted eight different players” who would give the Bruins that scoring punch. Instead Boston’s offense, which is ranked 30th in goals scored (only 150 through Wednesday night) stays the same.
“I didn’t think that the additions that I contemplated would produce more than marginal improvement,” said Chiarelli. “I really–hard to believe after scoring one goal last night [against Montreal]– but I really think that our group can score, and we will score more.
Although Chiarelli preferred to stay quiet on the players he was after, names such as Wojtek Wolski, the former Av who was traded to the Coyotes, and Alex Ponikarovski, the Leaf-turned-Penguin were briefly hinted towards.
“I see us struggling to score,” says Chiarelli. “I saw us struggling to score last night, but with the strength of our centermen and what I saw in the last eight, nine games prior to last night and what I saw from last year, I believe this team can improve in its scoring”
The pressure will be on Chiarelli and Bruins management from the rest of the season into the draft. With the Bruins hanging on to their prized first round selection from Toronto, which looks to be a top-2 pick, much is expected in the offseason. The scoring issue can’t be ignored anymore, especially if this is a Boston team that doesn’t make the playoffs after finishing atop of the Eastern Conference last season.
“Marginal improvements” may not be the answer for the trade deadline but picking up free agents or making trades for legitimate scoring on the top line is essential for next season. Marc Savard might be one of the best playmakers in the game, but when he has no one to feed pucks to, how quickly does his value lessen?