By Wayne Whittaker, Boston Bruins Correspondent
In the next week or so, we’re going to find out just how badly the Boston Bruins want to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
With injuries piling up, and play slumping, many fans around the Hub feel that the Bruins need to go “all in” at the trade deadline and attempt to acquire a high-caliber player, specifically Rick Nash.
This line of thinking is centered around instant success. With general manager Scott Howson reportedly eying Tuukka Rask as part of a package that would go to Columbus in exchange for Nash, it’s unlikely Boston Peter Chiarelli would be willing to take the bait. And with good reason.
Perhaps it’s the the taste of recent success that has caused Bruins fans shortsightedness, but let’s take a step back to assess this Boston club.
Nathan Horton has been out with a concussion for nearly a month. In his absence, David Krejci has struggled. Rich Peverley originally replaced Horton on the depth chart, until a knee-to-knee hit courtesy of Hal Gill sidelined the winger for 4-6 weeks. The ever inconsistent Benoit Pouliot, generally a third-line depth player, is now one of Boston’s top six forwards.
For the better part of a month, the Bruins have been playing mediocre hockey. As if injuries weren’t enough, Boston has also been plagued been inconsistent play from some of their top performers. In success or in failure, the tone is generally set by the captain, and this slump is no different. Zdeno Chara hasn’t been himself since the all-star break, and the same can be said for his team.
Last season, Boston took a look around the Eastern Conference and realized that they were as deep and as healthy as any other contenders, and Chiarelli decided to trade top prospect Joe Colborne, and two early round draft picks to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle. The Bruins did go on to win the Stanley Cup, but it may have been in spite of this trade, as Kaberle struggled and was allowed to walk away from Boston in free agency.
Given how conservative Chiarelli has been in prior trade deadlines, it would be a safe bet to say that the Bruins will be targeting some depth players to help them make a deep playoff run.
It’s hard to see an upside to overpaying for a perhaps slightly overrated rental like Nash, in a desperate attempt to repeat as Cup champs.
Luckily, there doesn’t appear to be any deal in the works between Columbus and Boston, and rumors of the contrary should be taken with a gain of salt. After all,’tis the season for baseless speculation.
The Boston Bruins are close to becoming perennial Cup contenders, and should continue to build on the system in place for future success. With a few minor tweaks, this Bruins team could win back-to-back championships, and there’s no need to trade away the future just to increase those odds. With the way the Bruins have been retaining and developing young players, “there’s always next year” could be more than just a cliche.