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BOSTON -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli recently said he would be active prior to the NHL trade deadline Feb. 28, and he made his first deal Tuesday night when he acquired centerman Chris Kelly from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Boston's second-round pick in the 2011 draft.
Chiarelli announced the deal after Boston's 4-3 loss at home to Toronto on Tuesday night. The Bruins are tied with Montreal atop the Northeast Division.
"It was important to get this one done. We need help in a couple of areas, and this is one of the areas," Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli said this deal has been in the works for a while, but just because Kelly now is on board, the GM is not done dealing.
Chiarelli has made it no secret he's actively seeking a defenseman, and said Tuesday night that he's targeting nine solid options and he's quite certain he'll make a deal.
"We've had discussions on a number of fronts," Chiarelli said. "I'd say a number of them are closer, but I don't have anything imminent."
At this point, Chiarelli won't have to make a roster move, but he's expecting to have to subtract from the current team in order to pull off his next move.
"I like our chemistry. I like our team," he said. "However, having said that, the reality is I may have to subtract if I'm going to add stuff I want to add."
While the GM continues to build the Bruins for the stretch run and the playoffs, he believes the addition of Kelly, who has had 12 goals and 23 points in 57 games with the Senators this season and 75 goals, 101 assists and 176 points in 462 NHL games, fills a need.
Chiarelli described Kelly, 30, as a "known commodity" and believes he'll be an important part moving forward this season. Kelly also is under contract through the 2011-12 season. Due to visa issues, he's not expected to join the Bruins at practice Wednesday, but Chiarelli believes the newcomer will be on the team's next road trip, which begins Thursday.
Kelly was informed of his trade after the last-place Senators hosted the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. He said he wasn't surprised by the deal and that he's looking forward to his change of scenery.
"They're a great team, and I'm excited to be joining them," he said. "They're a hard-working team that has a great goalie and great forwards. Hopefully I can find a spot there and help them whenever I can."
Kelly won't have to wait long to return to Scotiabank Place. Ottawa hosts the Bruins on Friday night.
"It'll be a weird feeling coming out on the other side of the rink. Ottawa's all I know, being drafted here and playing my whole career here," Kelly said. "I would have loved to have been part of the organization for a long time to come, but that's not the case and I wish them a lot of luck going forward."
The rebuilding Senators traded fan favorite Mike Fisher to Nashville last week for the Predators' first-round pick in this year's draft.
"I just traded one of the good guys and most respected players on this hockey team," Senators general manager Bryan Murray said. "To have to make the moves we're making are difficult, but that's the way we have to go at this point in time."
Chiarelli knows Kelly quite well from his time in the Ottawa organization, and Boston's GM said he's been impressed with Kelly's versatility, two-way play, face-off abilities and playoff experience.
"He's a high-character person. He plays both ways and we needed a centerman that is going to give us some depth, and Chris can give us that. He's a very good person and has good leadership characters."
Another important aspect that made this acquisition favorable for Chiarelli and the Bruins is Kelly's versatility. He can play the wing and play any role.
Even though the Bruins have a solid depth chart at the center position in the organization, Chiarelli said he began searching for another centerman once the team decided Marc Savard was done for the season due to a concussion.
With Kelly in the mix, rookie Tyler Seguin likely will be pushed back to the wing and coach Claude Julien will have more lineup leverage.
"This gives us some options, and I don't mind creating a healthy competition, either," Chiarelli said. "It's going to make us a better team."
Kelly has played in a Stanley Cup final and has plenty of postseason experience, and he admitted Tuesday night that he thinks the Bruins have a chance to go deep into the playoffs.
"Yeah, playing them as many times as I have, they've got a great team there," he said. "I'm excited to be joining them and getting the opportunity to play in the postseason."
The Senators originally selected Kelly in the third round (94th overall) in the 1999 NHL entry draft.
He has 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in 57 games this season for the Senators, and he's appeared in a total of 462 career games in the NHL all with Ottawa. Now he's playing for an Original Six team.
"When you get an opportunity to play for an Original Six team, it's something special," Kelly said. "To be playing for the Boston Bruins, it's a great opportunity and something I'm excited to be a part of."
Chiarelli made it a point to say that getting this deal done was important, but he's also quite certain he'll be able to add more pieces soon.
"We're happy to have him in the organization. He's going to help us," Chiarelli said.Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Information from James Murphy of ESPNBoston.com and The Associated Press was used in this report.