The Boston Bruins, Baseball, and Open Windows

The 2013 Boston Bruins remain well positioned for success. (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. This is not a piece on how Jarome Iginla got away, and the various factors that went into a failed deal with the Calgary Flames.

As I posted yesterday on twitter, there’s sufficient evidence to suggest that the Calgary Flames wanted to pick up the offer that the Boston Bruins were dropping, going so far as to indicate to Peter Chiarelli that it was a fait accompli since Iginla had the Bruins on his list of desired teams.

But, at the end of the day (literally), Iginla decided that he wanted to be a Pittsburgh Penguin, and the rest is history.

Nevertheless, Bruins fans should know that the team is indeed committed to winning now; they put THE best offer out there, and ultimately, what else can you ask for?

A Baseball Comparison

The whole scenario reminded me of another recent deal, albeit in a different sport. Back in December, the Toronto Blue Jays pulled off a trade with the New York Mets that brought RA Dickey to Toronto in exchange for a package that included Travis D’Arnaud & Noah Syndergaard. Now, this move was made on the heels of a much bigger trade that the Jays had made in November, one that already had then well positioned to contend in the American League this year without having given up too much from their prospect ranks.

The Dickey deal was made as a true “all in” signal, securing the services of the reigning Cy Young winner in exchange for a couple highly regarded prospects.

Peter Chiarelli - Bruins
Peter Chiarelli (Icon SMI)

While there were some initial questions about trading one of the highest ranked catching prospects AND a top 25 pitching prospect for a 38 year old knuckler, there existed a measure of certainty and promise here that made this deal pretty easy to swallow for the Blue Jays and their fans.

In some respects, Dickey can be seen as still being in his prime years, and the fact that he signed a 3-year extension with the Jays (coupled with the overall sense of excitement surrounding the team) helped absorb any hesitation about shipping out potential future all-stars.

So, what does this all have to do with the Boston Bruins?

For one, as already mentioned, there’s no reason to believe that this team isn’t willing to do whatever it takes to win in the here and now, and that’s awesome. As mentioned during the March 27th episode of the Marek vs Wyshynski podcast, there was a time where this was not the case, and it’s not something to be taken for granted.

Chiarelli & Co. deemed that they were willing to part with Khokhlachev, Bartkowski and a 1st for the chance of winning another Cup with Iginla on board, and there’s every reason to believe that they will try to make a splash sometime between now and the April 3rd trade deadline.

If the Iginla deal had indeed gone through, however, there’s absolutely no guarantees that it would have worked out to any positive effect for the Bruins (as there are no guarantees for the Penguins), and (depending on what Koko turns into), it could have set the team back long term.

As Cam Charron helpfully put it on twitter yesterday:

The Toronto Blue Jays made the Dickey deal because they fully believe that he will be able to perform at a high level for the next few years while helping them attain a now realistic World Series goal, and they were able to get him to commit to the team by way of a contract extension. Iginla may have worn the Boston Black ‘n’ Gold for anywhere from 20-44 games, scored MAYBE 8-12 goals, without any guarantees of raising the Cup in the end. The price in the baseball deal seems justified, but the Bruins by no means lost by not acquiring the current incarnation of Jarome Iginla.

Open Windows

In fact, one could easily argue that the Bruins remain well positioned to succeed this year, and it might not be the worst thing in the world for them to enter the playoffs once again as scrappy underdogs instead of loaded favorites, a scenario that worked out quite well for them in 2011.

With the Penguins now as the benchmark that everyone seems to be reach, here’s Cam Charron once again with another helpful bit of perspective for Bruins fans:

The Bruins have put much effort in keeping their 2011 Cup team intact, and, despite the various struggles that have plagued them late in games this season, they remain serious contenders. As a group, they are familiar with one another and play well together, and further to Cam’s point on possession, the Bruins rank second (only to last year’s Cup champions) in both Corsi For & Fenwick For %’s (FF%, CF%), clear recipes for success.

And, as Bob Mand points out here, Iginla was but one of several options for the Bruins in terms of adding pieces for a run, and they certainly have the cap space to make a splash. Maybe Khokhlachev or Ryan Spooner are dealt, but (like the Blue Jays) maybe they end up getting a better return for their willingness to part with key assets.

In short, and regardless of what transpired with Iginla and what may happen between now and the deadline, the Boston Bruins are as well positioned as anybody to win the Cup in 2013. More than that, the franchise as a whole (from Cam Neely on down, at least) is committed to sustained success, and that’s really all that supporters and observers of the team can ask for.

This team’s window remains open, and should for the foreseeable future. It’s encouraging to see them attempt to go “all in”, but the opportunity exists for the Bruins to succeed while adding only complimentary pieces. Remember, back in 2011, the the addition of Tomas Kaberle was seen as their “big splash”, but it was Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley that really made the difference.

Maybe by taking more of a small ball approach to the trade deadline, they may end up hitting a home run once again.

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