BOSTON -- Without making a massive splash at the trade deadline, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli made it clear to his players that he believes this team can earn a playoff spot and potentially have a long postseason run.
In deals that won't impress many fans, Chiarelli added depth, experience and prospects to the organization Monday.
The Bruins traded forward Jordan Caron and the team's 2016 sixth-round pick to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forwards Maxime Talbot and Paul Carey. Boston also acquired prospect Brett Connolly from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a pair of second-round picks in 2015 and 2016, and in a third deal, the Bruins added forward Zack Phillips from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Jared Knight.
Chiarelli had been busy in the weeks leading up to the deadline and made some roster moves that gave him an estimated $6 million in salary-cap flexibility, placing forward David Krejci and defenseman Kevan Miller on long-term injury reserve.
Since Chiarelli didn't use that available space, Krejci can return prior to the end of the regular season instead of waiting until the playoffs.
The Boston Bruins didn't accomplish everything they wanted prior to Monday's trade deadline, but general manager Peter Chiarelli is pleased with the additions and believes the team can become a Stanley Cup contender again this season.
"We've tried to improve the team. We feel we've improved the team, and we hope for a good run coming up," Chiarelli said.
In a separate deal, the Bruins acquired forward Zack Phillips from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Jared Knight.
Talbot, 31, had five goals and 10 assists in 63 games for the Avalanche. His salary-cap hit is $1.8 million but the Avalanche will retain half of his salary for the remainder of this season and all of next.
Caron, the 24-year-old first-rounder (No. 25 in 2009) never reached the potential the Bruins had hoped to see. In 134 career games with Boston, Caron recorded 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points.
The deal was struck about 30 minutes before the 3 p.m. ET deadline. In the early morning hours Monday, the Bruins also acquired forward Brett Connolly from Tampa Bay in exchange for the Bruins' second-round picks in 2015 and 2016.
"I see a top-six forward and then if you look at all his goals, he's a shooter," Chiarelli said. "I think he's a shooter first. He's a net-front guy. He'll go and get goals at the top of the blue. He's a rangy guy. He makes plays but he's a shoot-first guy. I really like his release and he's young and he's growing. He's going to be a top-six player."
Talbot is described as having an infectious personality and will add another veteran presence for the Bruins. He can be an effective bottom-six forward and will help with the penalty kill.
"Competes hard," said a coach of a Western Conference team. "He's been through a lot of battles. He will be a good depth forward for the Bruins, and his experience will help as they push for a playoff spot. He finishes his checks and stirs the pot. He's a real good pro."
Chiarelli described Talbot as a veteran presence that will add to the core group both on and off the ice.
"I talked to Max earlier today, and he's excited to come here," Chiarelli said. "I would characterize him as a glue guy who has played in a lot of playoffs, plays all three positions, is a gritty guy, plays all-out, and we believe he's a good add to our forward group."
When asked if Connolly reminded him of Rick Nash
Bruins get: Brett Connolly
Lightning get: Bruins' 2015 second-round pick, Bruins' 2016 second-round pick
I love the thought process here for the Bruins. Rather than using draft picks for a rental player, they get a guy in Brett Connolly who still has upside, and can be a part of the long-term plan. The strategy is impeccable. The young player they picked is debatable.
- Montreal Canadiens -- The Habs have won four straight and now find themselves perched atop the Eastern Conference with 87 points. General manager Marc Bergevin was rumored to be one of the most aggressive in scouring the market in the weeks leading up to the deadline, and he was able to snag one of the top rental defenseman, acquiring Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers on Monday in exchange for a pair of picks.
- Florida Panthers -- The Cats continue to challenge the Boston Bruins for the last wild-card spot in the East, pulling within two points following Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Also, how fun is it to see Jaromir Jagr in a Florida sweater? That certainly adds some extra buzz to South Florida.
- New York Rangers -- Make no mistake, Rangers general manager Glen Sather is not looking toward the future. He is going all-in with the Eastern Conference wide-open this season. Sather pulled the trigger on a massive deal Sunday, acquiring veteran defenseman Keith Yandle in a multi-player swap that included picks going both ways as well. Yandle fulfills a long-standing need for the Rangers, who clearly see their window to win limited with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in his prime.
- Toronto Maple Leafs -- The Leafs are in full-on sell mode, with just about everyone on their roster being made available, including the likes of captain Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. All three have to be attractive options to contending teams, but there are other matters to consider. Lupul is talented but injury-prone, while both Phaneuf's and Kessel’s cap hits will be prohibitive for some teams. Odds are that those deals get done in the offseason instead, but if Toronto was willing to retain some salary, that could help facilitate a move.
- Columbus Blue Jackets -- The Jackets have dropped four straight games, most recently a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night. With the Blue Jackets out of the playoff picture, forward Cam Atkinson and defenseman James Wisniewski could be on the move, though the latter has a limited no-trade clause that he is willing to exercise to stay.
- The Boston Bruins gained some needed cap space in placing both David Krejci and Kevan Miller on long-term injured reserve. Both players are expected to miss the remainder of the regular season, although there is a possibility Krejci could return sooner.
- Trying to keep the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, the New York Islanders are battling a couple of key injuries up front with Mikhail Grabovski, Casey Cizikas and Kyle Okposo all on injured reserve.
What to watch for
- Isles rivalry -- Considering the type of acquisition the Rangers made Sunday, significantly upgrading their blue line, it will be interesting to see if Islanders general manager Garth Snow feels an increasing sense of pressure with other contending teams in the Metropolitan Division adding to their rosters. At the very least, the Islanders could stand to add some help on the penalty kill.
- Detroit sniffing around -- The Detroit Red Wings made a late move Sunday night to acquire veteran forward Erik Cole, and you have to wonder if general manager Ken Holland might still have a few tricks up his sleeve. According to multiple reports, the Wings have expressed some interest in Phaneuf, though Detroit would need Toronto to eat some of his salary to pull off a deal.
- Cats coming close -- Trailing the Bruins by two points in the standings, the Panthers are clawing hard to pull within the top eight teams and knock Boston out of the mix. Helping matters is the fact that Florida has four straight home games coming up.
Adding the 22-year-old forward will help the Bruins in the sense that Chiarelli decided (at least right now) not to rely on a rental player like Buffalo Sabres forward Chris Stewart.
A former first-round pick (No. 6 overall) in 2010, Connolly had 12 goals and three assists for 15 points in 50 games for the Lightning this season.
He's been having his most productive campaign so far, after totaling six goals and 11 assists in 84 games across his three previous seasons. Overall, he has 18 goals and 14 assists for 32 points in 134 career NHL games.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Connolly’s shooting percentage is 16.2 this season, which would rank first among Bruins skaters with at least 400 minutes of ice time this year. Brad Marchand is leading the Bruins with a 12.9 shooting percentage this season.
"Young player, can really shoot the puck," Chiarelli told bostonbruins.com. "He's a player we kind of looked at for a while."
In order to be effective in Boston, Connolly will need a chance to play in the top six. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder has good size and he’s skilled.
“He should be good in Boston,” said one NHL scout.
It’ll be interesting to see where Bruins coach Claude Julien decides to use Connolly. It’s likely he’ll start on the fourth line until he proves his worth.
Chiarelli’s not done. He’s still looking for depth on defense.
“I think some of the prices that have been paid, for the players who have been acquired, are insane,” he said.
Maybe it was frustration talking, but it wasn’t exactly inaccurate.
The price of doing business is high. While you were sleeping, the Lightning sent a package that included a first- and third-round pick to the Flyers for Braydon Coburn. The Lightning could do it because GM Steve Yzerman has built up a wealth of good young players and extra draft picks with smart management.
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The Tampa Bay Lightning swung a pair of trades in the early hours of Monday's trade-deadline day, acquiring defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Philadelphia Flyers and sending forward Brett Connolly to the Boston Bruins.
The Lightning gave up defenseman Radko Gudas and their 2015 first- and third-round draft picks in exchange for Coburn, while acquiring a second-round pick in 2015 and another in 2016 in the Connolly deal.
Coburn, 30, led the Flyers this season in average shifts per game at 27.9 and was third among Philly defensemen in average ice time at 20:14. In addition, he had one goal, eight assists and 16 penalty minutes.
He has totaled 37 goals and 129 assists over his 10-year career with the Flyers and Atlanta Thrashers. He was drafted eighth overall by Atlanta in 2003.
Gudas, 24, played in 31 games this season for Tampa Bay, totaling two goals, three assists and 34 penalty minutes, but has been out due to injury and is not expected back until the end of the regular season.
Connolly, 22, had 12 goals and three assists for the Lightning this season, his fourth in the NHL after being drafted sixth overall by Tampa Bay in 2010.
He has been having his most productive campaign so far, after totaling six goals and 11 assists in 84 games across his three previous seasons.
"Young player, can really shoot the puck," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told bostonbruins.com. "He's a player we kind of looked at for a while."
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Connolly's shooting percentage is 16.2 this season, which would rank first among Bruins skaters with at least 400 minutes of ice time this season. Brad Marchand
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' roster could look completely different in the next 48 hours.
After the team’s 4-1 victory Saturday night over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden, the Bruins won’t play again until Thursday, when the Calgary Flames visit. It’s likely the squad will see some additions and subtractions by then.
With the NHL trade deadline looming Monday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is diligently working the phones, trying to find the best deal for the organization. It’s no secret he would like to add a forward and a defenseman to the mix, but he’s being careful not to overreact or seem desperate in this time of need.
There are four teams -- likely more -- with whom Chiarelli has had discussions, including the Buffalo Sabres (Chris Stewart), Coyotes (Antoine Vermette), Dallas Stars (Erik Cole) and Columbus Blue Jackets (Cam Atkinson).
Chiarelli had an up-close-and-personal look at Vermette on Saturday. With Bruins top-line center David Krejci sidelined the next four to six weeks due to a partially torn MCL in his left knee, Vermette might have helped the Bruins down the stretch -- but, according to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, the Chicago Blackhawks got there first, agreeing to a deal later Saturday night and leaving the Bruins still in the market for veteran forward help.
After Saturday’s final horn, Vermette was visibly emotional at the thought of having played his last game for the Coyotes.
"I don’t know what I’m thinking. It’s obviously a strange position and it’s not a fun one,” he said. “I am [emotional] but you’ve got to take it, man. It’s part of the game."
Bruins assistant captain Chris Kelly, who played with Vermette in Ottawa, said the 32-year-old would make a fine addition wherever he landed.
“We had a lot of great memories. We played together quite often in Ottawa and it was fun," Kelly said. "He’s a great player ... just a quality guy. He’s been around a long time and any team that gets him, I think they’re going to be extremely happy with what they get."
Coyotes veteran Shane Doan called the situation in the team’s locker room emotional.
"He’s been our go-to guy in every situation on the ice,” Doan said of Vermette. “If you need somebody to shut someone down, that’s what he has been doing for us, and that’s why he’s so valuable to us. On top of that he’s just a great guy."
Of course, this time of the season the rumor mill is churning out of control.
There had been some speculation that the Bruins approached Milan Lucic about waiving his no-trade clause, but a team source denied that rumor. At the start of the season, Chiarelli described Lucic as a “pillar” of the organization and was hoping to agree on a contract extension. The hulking forward has one season remaining on his current deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Knowing there’s a possibility the current Bruins roster could be different by 3 p.m. Monday, Lucic said his teammates are focused only on winning.
"Right now we’re enjoying the win, but obviously with the trade deadline coming up, it’s always expect the unexpected,” he said. “Peter and the management group are going to do what they feel is best for the team, and you’ve got to stick by his decision."
There’s always unrest in locker rooms across the league at this time of the year. It’s been particularly strange around these parts only because the Bruins aren’t accustomed to fighting for a playoff berth. They currently hold the eighth and final Eastern Conference spot, four points clear of the Florida Panthers, who also won Saturday.
The Bruins have Sunday off, and since they’re not playing until Thursday, it’s possible coach Claude Julien will give the team Monday off, too. If that’s the case, when the Bruins do return to the ice, the team could well have a different look.
Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters in New Jersey earlier in the day that goaltender Tuukka Rask was sick and was questionable to play Friday against the Devils. Niklas Svedberg ended up getting the start.
Smith, 25, has played in 26 games for the P-Bruins this season, posting a 14-8-4 record, a 2.08 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.