Bruins add three at deadline
BOSTON -- In a trade market where the number of buyers far outweighed the sellers, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Monday afternoon that over the last three or four days he made more phone calls to fellow GMs than he ever has in the time leading to the NHL trade deadline.
His work netted three players, defenseman Mike Mottau and forward Brian Rolston, acquired from the New York Islanders for prospects Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin, and defenseman Greg Zanon, who came from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenseman Steven Kampfer.
"Overall, it was a long day," Chiarelli said at a news conference at TD Garden. "I'm satisfied with the depth we've added, and the veteran presence."
Rolston, 39, returns to Boston for a second stint after a five-year run with the Bruins leading up to the 2004-05 lockout. He was productive in his first go-round, racking up 101 goals and 135 assists from 1999-2004 before seeing his career take off in Minnesota. He had three straight 30-goal seasons from 2005-06 to 2007-08, and potted 20 in 80 games with New Jersey two seasons ago.
Rolston's production has tailed off this season, with just 4-5--9 totals in 48 games. But Chiarelli believes Rolston brings versatility and motivation, a player who can move up and down the forward pairings with his shot and skating ability.
"When we get out and we look for these types of players that are rentals, we look to see that the players are motivated," Chiarelli said. "And I would put him in that category."
The Islanders had placed Rolston on waivers Saturday, and Chiarelli said he figured the veteran would pass through Monday's noon deadline unclaimed, giving him more time to work on several other deals.
"We had been looking at him from a distance," Chiarelli said. "I wanted to explore some things prior to noon, to see if there were other guys that we could acquire. I didn't feel that he would be picked up on waivers. That happens a lot, and maybe a lot of the guys thought the same thing.
"Then it gave us a little more flexibility because we were able to use the whole day. I made a calculation that he wouldn't be picked up, knowing we could come back to him later in the day."
With the timetable of Nathan Horton's return from concussion symptoms still unknown, Chiarelli said he would have liked to have acquired two forwards.
"With Nathan, I expect him back, but with these things I don't know," Chiarelli said. "So we were happy, we were fortunate to get one forward. There's a bunch of teams that maybe they were trying and didn't get what they wanted, so we're fortunate to be able to add some depth. Any time you have uncertain injuries, you automatically think, 'Geez, I've got to get deeper, I've got to get deeper.'"
Chiarelli confirmed that defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who didn't practice Monday, has a mild concussion. He said that didn't factor into his decision to acquire two defensemen, bringing the number of blue-liners with the big club to eight, but it was more a function of adding overall depth.
"What I've seen over my time in hockey, defensemen can drop like flies," Chiarelli said. "You can never have enough defensemen. We wanted to have eight NHL defensemen in the mix, so that was the blueprint I was working off of."
Chiarelli said Zanon, a left-handed shooter, is a "real gritty competitor," calling him "a warrior-type defenseman." With the defensive system the Bruins employ, they were attracted to Zanon's shot-blocking ability.
Zanon's 104 blocked shots this season would rank second on the Bruins, behind Dennis Seidenberg (131) and ahead of Boychuk. In the Bruins' Feb. 19 meeting with the Wild, Zanon registered four hits and four blocked shots in 22 minutes of ice time.
Shot-blocking is an integral element to the the Bruins' success at the blue line. But with shot-blocking comes a higher likelihood of injury, sparking Chiarelli's decision to acquire two blue-liners.
"I think the Rangers are the best shot-blocking team," Chiarelli said. "I don't know what the numbers are, but you just see that they're committed to blocked shots. We've always been committed to blocked shots. We play a zone defense, and the guys have to block shots and get in the lanes.
"So we're not dissatisfied, but we're also knowing that blocked shots can lead to broken foots. So again, back to the depth."
Mottau, who grew up in Quincy, Mass., and won the Hobey Baker trophy in 2000 with Boston College, has appeared in just 29 games this season. He was activated for Sunday's game against Ottawa after missing 26 games with a concussion.
"He's got good feet and I like his gap for the kind of his size, strength of defenseman he is," Chiarelli said. "So he's got a good head on his shoulders, which is important. He's got good hockey sense. He's a guy that can distribute the puck in an efficient manner, that can get back and retrieve pucks.
"There was a time where he was playing with New Jersey when he had a real good stretch, not too long ago, where he was logging a lot of minutes and he was a real efficient player. Again, another piece to the depth puzzle. That's what we would expect from him."
Mottau described himself to reporters as "a steady, two-way defenseman who can make a good outlet pass."
"Something I can duplicate over and over again is making a good outlet pass, and making good reads relying on my hockey intellect and reading plays and anticipating. It's not sometimes the showiest game that I play, but as far as adding value, that's what I'm looking to do on whatever level that I'm needed."
"I remember being able to name all the guys in the '83-84 media guide by number and name," he said. "It's quite a thrill for me."
Mottau said his agent had inquired about playing for the Bruins in the past but that it was never a good fit -- until now.
"I always said I'd take a puck in the teeth for the Bruins," he said. "Now I have a chance to do that."
Brendan Hall is a reporter for ESPNBoston.com.