Commentary

Peter Chiarelli fills Bruins' needs

GM didn't complete blockbuster trade, but put his team in position to succeed

Updated: April 3, 2013, 10:22 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- With so many teams still in playoff contention in the lockout-shortened season, it wasn't surprising when Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli did not pull off a blockbuster deal prior to Wednesday's NHL trade deadline.

Short of landing star-studded trade chip Jarome Iginla last week after the future Hall of Famer decided he wanted to play with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chiarelli accomplished what he wanted to in attempting to improve the Bruins for the final month of the season in hope of a deep playoff run.

[+] EnlargePeter Chiarelli
AP Photo/Charles KrupaPeter Chiarelli said this was the most challenging trade deadline period he's ever dealt with.

Overall, the Bruins gave up little to add veteran forward Jaromir Jagr and veteran defenseman Wade Redden along with young forwards Kaspers Daugavins and Rob Flick. While Jagr and Daugavins are expected to be in the lineup when the Bruins host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at TD Garden, there's a chance Redden won't arrive in Boston on time. Flick will play for the Providence Bruins of the AHL.

From the start, Chiarelli wanted to add to the roster without subtracting from the team's current core and chemistry.

"I'm comfortable," Chiarelli said. "The question is: Is the team comfortable? I think they are. We've added some new bodies. We're seeing some further contributions by [goaltender Anton] Khudobin, so that spells Tuukka [Rask]. It's important in this schedule, I didn't want to add too many bodies, but you wanted to add enough because we're playing every other day.

"You want to try to get these guys some rest along the way, so the extra bodies will help in that way. Having said that, we have 13 games left in the regular season, and that's not many. It's time to start thinking about ramping up. It's easy to think about it but to do it is hard, so that's what our goal and objective is now."

But no matter how many additions the Bruins made at the deadline, the news that assistant captain Patrice Bergeron suffered a moderate concussion during Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators and is out indefinitely will hurt. Without Bergeron's leadership and production both on and off the ice, the team's chances of going deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs would dwindle.

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Chiarelli said that after he learned of Bergeron's injury Tuesday night, he considered making a deal for another forward before the deadline but ultimately decided to hold off. The Bruins will not need to recall a centerman from Providence because both Tyler Seguin and Daugavins can play center, Chiarelli said.

"When you see a player like Patrice go down, there's no way we're going to replace him. There wasn't that caliber player [available via trade] so I'm not going to go around chasing it all day," Chiarelli said. "You've seen it across the league, teams have picked up the rest of the team when they have injuries, and I would expect us to do the same."

Even before Bergeron suffered the concussion -- the fourth of his career -- Chiarelli knew it would be a challenge to make deals this season, but it wasn't for a lack of effort on his part.

"Today was the end of the most difficult trade period I've been a part of in my time in hockey," Chiarelli said. "I knew that going into it, probably just from the tightness of the standings, and just the compression that resulted in a shortage of players. There's other things that contributed to the shortage, but it was mainly that, with a lot of teams in contention."

As is usually the case this time of the year, Chiarelli said he was involved in a few discussions Wednesday that never came to fruition.

"I went in today with not a lot of expectation," he said. "I wanted to try and get a defenseman to help out depth."

Even though defenseman Matt Bartkowski nearly went to the Calgary Flames in a deal for Iginla a week ago, Chiarelli said he's happy with the strides the young defenseman has made, and the team is confident he'll be able to make contributions moving forward.

From a defensive standpoint, the Bruins have Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference, Dougie Hamilton, Aaron Johnson, Bartkowski and Adam McQuaid (currently out with a shoulder injury). Redden will add to that depth.

"If he plays like I think he's capable of playing, it'll be a bonus," Chiarelli said.

Plus, injured forward Chris Kelly (broken left tibia) is expected to return to the lineup in the near future. He's missed 12 games with the injury, but his rehab has progressed well. He's been skating for the last few days, and he's hoping to rejoin the team during practice.

"He'll be back soon," Chiarelli said. "I'm satisfied with his prospective return date and he'll be playing for us soon."

For the last few weeks, there's been plenty of talk about the Bruins adding forward Carl Soderberg, who is currently playing in the playoffs of the Swiss Elite League. Since the Bruins acquired his rights in a trade with the St. Louis Blues in exchange for goaltender Hannu Toivonen in 2007, Soderberg has yet to play in Boston. Chiarelli would like to add him soon, but he's not counting on it.

"Again, I'm not hanging my hat on this," Chiarelli said. "I hope to get him, and if we get him he will help us."

Chemistry has always been an important part of the Bruins' locker room environment. They are a close group, so when players are either recalled from Providence or brought in via trade, Chiarelli recognizes the importance of them fitting in. He believes the new additions will have a seamless transition in Boston.

"Any time you add players, it's going to affect the chemistry," Chiarelli said. "These guys, I know Wade and I have no issues there. I don't know Jaromir, but talking to him and talking to other people, I don't think there will be any issues there."

Since Jagr and Redden have experience going deep into the playoffs, Chiarelli doesn't anticipate any issues in the locker room.

"I do try to project how it will affect it," he said.

At this point, Chiarelli did his job and did it well. A true indication won't be set until the season is over and the Bruins can truly assess their successes or failures.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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