Monday, March 3, 2014
Chiarelli still looking to bolster blue line
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is on record as saying he would like to add depth and/or a veteran presence to the team’s blue line before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
Both Chiarelli and Claude Julien have said if the trade deadline comes and goes, and the team does not make a deal, the GM and coach are comfortable moving forward with the way the roster is currently constituted.
If that were the case, the Bruins would play the final 22 games of the regular season and head into the Stanley Cup playoffs with Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller as their top six defensemen.
With Dennis Seidenberg out for the season with a knee injury, along with Adam McQuaid’s status questionable with a hip/groin issue, it’s clear the Bruins need help on the back end.
A couple of possibilities the Bruins are considering include Ottawa’s Chris Phillips and the New York Islanders’ Andrew MacDonald.
Phillips, 35, remains in contract talks with the Senators and if the sides can’t agree on an extension, it’s possible Ottawa will trade him. It’s unclear, however, whether the Senators would be willing to deal the veteran defenseman to a division rival, especially since they’re still fighting for a playoff spot.
The Bruins were exploring the possibility of adding Phillips via trade late last week. He will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
MacDonald, 27, is considered a versatile, low-maintenance player. He averages nearly 26 minutes per game, which equals the amount of ice time Chara logs. MacDonald has 24 points in 63 games and can handle any role.
In order to acquire MacDonald, the Bruins realistically would have to surrender a second-round draft pick and a prospect.
With few options available this season, Boston also could consider adding a one-dimensional, stay-at-home, pain-in-the-butt defenseman.
An interesting player that’s available is Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey. The 32-year-old blueliner signed a one-year deal with the Hurricanes and he’ll be a UFA this summer. A native of Bolton, Conn., Hainsey has 13 points in 61 games for the Hurricanes, including a minus-11 rating.
If Chiarelli believes there’s a way to improve the team for the stretch run and the playoffs, he will. Each transaction he’s made in recent years at the deadline has worked to some extent. One of the best moves he made was acquiring Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley from Ottawa and Atlanta, respectively, in 2011. That deal helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup.
This season, the Bruins have plenty of offense, and similar to 2011, Julien is able to roll four lines consistently. Boston’s top two lines are producing, the third line of Kelly, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson is beginning to find its stride, and the team’s energy line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton remains consistent.
With Tuukka Rask in net, the Bruins only need to add depth to the blue line to be in position for another deep postseason run.