By Mike Miccoli, Boston Bruins correspondent
It could be that Friday, February 18 will go down as one of the busiest days on the job for Peter Chiarelli. After months, maybe even a year of two of speculation, the Bruins were able to get their puck-moving defenseman in Tomas Kaberle. The price was steep, as 2008 1st round pick Joe Colborne and Boston’s 2011 1st rounder went to Toronto in exchange for the 33-year old–a trade that essentially sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta to clear cap space all while bringing in Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik. Of course, this was all within an hour.
The biggest criticism Chiarelli faced this time last year was his lack to pull the trigger on a trade that would bring a forward to the offensively-deficient Bruins of 2009-10. This season, Chiarelli was adamant on making his team better for the present, rather than building for the future.
And the upgrades are there. Kaberle is certainly a better puck-moving defenseman than Dennis Wideman was (well, at least last season), Peverley explained that he likes to ‘shoot’ so right there is a cut above Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart, well…Stuart hasn’t seen much ice time as of late with the logjam at the blue line position. Acquiring Kaberle didn’t help his cause either.
By now, everybody in Boston knows about Kaberle due to the fans pre-emptive scouting nature. Kaberle’s 35 assists will already put him at the top of that category amongst all Bruins’ skaters. His role will be that of a puck-moving defenseman who will have to quarterback the B’s sometimes stagnant unit. He’s only signed through July at a cap hit of $4.25 million but will no doubt be the Bruins’ top priority to re-sign once the summer hits. However, he was expensive.
But at the end of the day, Chiarelli moved the right parts to get just what he wanted.
Let’s start with Boston’s 2011 1st round pick–that shouldn’t have been too much of a shock, especially with Toronto’s 1st round pick still in Chiarelli’s possession. Though I had advised they trade the pick in an earlier column (after these transactions, it might be wise to hang on to it…for now), it seems like Chiarelli is content with retaining it. Losing their own 1st isn’t a travesty and frankly, should have been expected. A conditional pick contingent on Kaberle re-signing or Boston reaching the Cup Finals also shouldn’t have been surprising.
Trading Colborne, the final piece of the deal, was surprising.
Joe Colborne has been touted here in Boston as the next “Jumbo Joe” since being selected 16th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. His stats throughout college had been strong but he was unable to live up to his reputation down in Providence–his first full season with the team. Dealing Colborne should tell you just how much the Bruins value young prospects like Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight. With the Bruins’ depth at the center position, Colborne’s shot at cracking Boston’s lineup wasn’t going to happen soon unless he transitioned to the wing, something the B’s brass did not want.
Colborne’s departure clears up the depth down the middle and gives Spooner, Knight and other prospects a chance to make the big club on the wing. Plus, the Bruins will be in need of skaters with skill and speed, not size. Colborne, though statured at 6’5″ and 216 lbs, apparently wasn’t that player.
To secondary, though just as important, trade came when the Bruins moved out two expiring contracts in Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart for centerman Rich Peverley and the former 10th overall pick in the 2004 draft, Boris Valabik.
Although Wheeler had stepped up his game as of late, Peverley will bring an offensive prowess to the B’s that Wheeler just couldn’t provide. He’s signed through the 2011-12 season at a reasonable cap hit of $1.325 million annually. Even better, Peverley is known as one of the best faceoff men at the center position with a win rate of 55.5%, just a notch under Patrice Bergeron‘s 56.4% rate. Peverley’s 14 goals and 20 assists rank him somewhere in the middle of the B’s lineup, rounding out what is turning up to be a pretty competitive top-nine for Boston’s forwards.
The Bruins are a better team going forward than they were, addressing their biggest needs as the season begins to wind down. Whether or not the Bruins overpaid can be debated, but the Bruins went out and got what they wanted.
When’s the last time that happened?