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Dealing for depth

February 28, 2012

Back to B.

It was a lot more dead than line for most teams at this year’s trade deadline, which hit at 3pm yesterday. But the Boston Bruins managed to deal for a few key pieces that will offer more depth and flexibility. This was not Kelly-Peverley-Kaberle add-on set. It was a little better than the Shane Hnidy pick-up.

The Bruins sent Steven Kampfer to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for shot-blocker Greg Zanon. To the Islanders went a fellow GM Peter Chiarelli didn’t know the name to and Marc Cantin, for Mike Mottau and Brian Rolston. So how will this all shake out?

Let’s begin with what we sent away: Riendeau and Cantin would have struggled to crack the NHL, perhaps even the AHL. They could be dealt. Riendeau has perhaps more upside, but the pipelines for forwards are stocked with Spooner and Knight and Khoklachev. It’s all good. But what of Steven Kampfer, the seventh defenseman who barely played any games in Boston or in Providence? I wrote about Kampfer and his potential with or without the Bruins over the summer. Much has changed since then–namely his dangerous play and MCL sprain. And as Chiarelli pointed out, the swagger (or ego) of last season that made him so exciting was absent this year. He played timidly. The puck struggled to exit the Bruins’ zone whenever Kampfer was on the ice. The Bruins allowed an alarming number of shots (by my count) for every 20 seconds Kampfer was out there. I don’t think Kampfer is solely responsible for this woes–the lack of playing time probably meant he wasn’t in the mental or physical shape and couldn’t hit a groove. I still believe Kampfer has the chance to develop into a steady NHL defenseman, but that may be several years away. The Wild are a great team in a great market and he’ll have a shot, perhaps first with the Houston Aeros, but eventually with the big-time in Minny down the stretch (the Wild are oft-injured).

But what we got back is more important. Mottau and Rolston have strong Boston ties, and Zanon brings a firm hand and can fill-in should injury strike. The trio are veterans of this league and are unlikely to disturb the chemistry.

In short: it’s a classic Chiarelli move. Quiet, understated, low-risk. But with an important impact. Players can now slot in where the belong and injury will not threaten the team’s viability. These additions finally mean the Bruins are scraping up against the salary cap for the first time this season. Chiarelli was honesty when he said he liked the head-room. So, he used it. And on three fellows scheduled to head to free agency on July 1. That’s a good deal. No attachment, just a chance for veterans. Bruins fans are acutely aware of how keeping the Cup-winning club together in the years to come will challenge the franchise (ie, when Seguin finishes his ELC and Marchand wraps the two-year deal he signed. But that’s a question for another day.

Perfect plug-and-play for now.

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