Peter Chiarelli, Boston Bruins Can’t Afford To Wait To Make Trade
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By Mitch Cole (@DirtyWaterBuzz)
When the Bruins announced that veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and MCL in his knee, it was well known that it was a serious blow to the team’s Stanley Cup hopes. However, a strong defense first system and solid depth on the blue line made it appear that the Bruins would be able to withstand the loss in the short term. However, that does not appear to be the case right now.
Since the Bruins lost Seidenberg, the team has begun taking on water, and fast, losing five of the eight games they have played since Seidenberg suffered his injury. One would think this would mean General Manager Peter Chiarelli would be be working furiously to make a trade to shore up the defense, but that appears to not be the case.
Since coming to Boston to take over the hockey operations department in May of 2006, there have been little complaints about the way Chiarelli has run the team. However, one valid complaint to be made is his apparent lack of urgency on the trade market. In his nearly eight years as GM of the Bruins, the one year that Chiarelli was proactive on the trade market was the team’s Stanley Cup championship year in 2011.
In February of 2011, Chiarelli dealt a second round draft pick to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for center Chris Kelly, who has since become an integral part of the Bruins’ roster. Just three days after the deal for Kelly, Chiarelli sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta in exchange for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik. Peverley was a key part of the Bruins’ championship run in 2011. That same day, Chiarelli dealt Joe Colborne and a pair of draft picks to Toronto in exchange for defenseman Tomas Kaberle. In Chiarelli’s tenure as Boston’s GM, only once has he gotten out in front of the trade market and made key deals before the trade deadline.
This year, with the Winter Olympics causing a league wide roster freeze, many consider the day before the roster freeze to be the first trade deadline. After the Olympic break, only 10 days remain for NHL teams to make trades before the March 5th trade deadline.
Rather than wait until March 5th and acquire a depth defenseman (a trade that Chiarelli often makes), Boston’s GM must act swiftly. Right now, with the way the team is playing, the Bruins are not competing for a Stanley Cup Final appearance; they’re a team that is fighting to stay in the playoff picture.
Despite what the standings may show, the fact of the matter is that the Bruins are playing like a borderline playoff team right now. The team needs, at the very least, a top four defenseman to help ease the loss of Seidenberg. What they truly need, however, is a top two defenseman. The Seidenberg injury means that the annual postseason super pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg will not be anchoring the Boston blue line this spring.
If you ask me, the player that Chiarelli should be targeting is Buffalo defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. While he has a long contract, his $4M cap hit from now until 2021 will be much easier to swallow with the salary cap set to go up quite a bit for the foreseeable future. While Ehrhoff isn’t the points producer he was when the Bruins saw in with the Canucks in 2011, he’s still a great defensive player and is more than capable of playing the role of workhorse and playing a lot of minutes down the stretch. And when Seidenberg returns to the lineup next season, the top four for the Bruins could be outstanding. Imagine having Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Christian Ehrhoff, Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, and Matt Bartkowski all capable of playing top fpour minutes. There would be a logjam on the back end, yes, but other than Kevan Miller, the Bruins don’t have any defense prospects that are on the verge of becoming full time NHL’ers.
This year, the Bruins need a trade more than ever before. This year, the Bruins can’t afford to wait.