Needing added depth up front with Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley sidelined with injuries, the Bruins brought back a familiar face before Monday's trade deadline. Boston acquired forward Brian Rolston, along with defenseman Mike Mottau, from the Islanders for fringe minor leaguers Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin, keeping their current roster intact while not affecting their future cap situation, as Rolston is on an expiring deal.
Rolston first came to Boston as part of the deal that sent Ray Bourque to Colorado in 2000, and put up 101-135-236 totals in 338 games wearing the spoked-B. That included a 31-goal campaign in 2001-02, but much has changed in the eight years since his departure, when the Bruins allowed him to hit the market as a free agent before the owners' lockout in 2004.
Among those changes is Rolston's declining production in recent years, including a modest 4-5-9 line in 49 games this season with New York, which actually placed Rolston on waivers prior to dealing him to Boston.
"[He] hasn't had a great year," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli admitted. "But I feel he's a motivated player. [He has a] terrific shot, can really skate, and he'll add to our depth and versatility. He can move up and down the lineup."
Rolston, 39, believes he can still contribute to a contender, and hopes to get a chance to prove that in Boston.
"Obviously that's going to be up to the coaches," Rolston said. "The Bruins have a few injuries right now. I'm hoping to go in and I'm planning on playing [Tuesday] night. I hope I can help on the power play. I've always played special teams in my career and we'll see where I fit. I'm sure they have an idea. I've pretty much played in every kind of role imaginable after 17 years in the league. So, whatever they hand me I'll be ready for it."
Chiarelli is counting on a motivated Rolston proving the doubters wrong, and helping the Bruins down the stretch and in the playoffs with his experience and versatility.
"I hope so," Chiarelli said. "When we go out and we look for these types of players that are rentals, we look to see that the players are motivated, and I would put him in that category. I mean you are motivated for a number of reasons. One, you want to win. So, you come into a winning team that is a legitimate contender so you want to win. Two, and again I don't know if it applies to Brian but I'm sure it applies to the other two, you want to work for your next contract."
Rolston technically will have the highest cap hit of all the Bruins forwards at $5.062 million, slightly ahead of Patrice Bergeron's $5.0 million salary. But Rolston's deal ends after this season, so it will not affect Boston's cap flexibility going forward, while perhaps adding to his motivation if he hopes to extend his career.
It also helps that Rolston comes to a place he is familiar with, albeit with few holdovers from his previous stint. The changes include a new man behind the bench in Claude Julien, but Rolston expects an easy transition to Julien's system.
"I'm super excited, I mean obviously going to an organization, a great organization, and a place I've been before," Rolston said. "Obviously a lot has changed since I've been there. I'm just excited to go to a team like that is close like with Claude Julien, you know kind of the defense-first mentality, something I'm very familiar with playing for Jacques Lemaire as many years as I have. So I'm excited about that. It shouldn't take me long to adjust to the way Bruins like to play."
The Bruins won't have the luxury of a long transition, as they need immediate help with the injuries they're currently dealing with. That made acquiring a veteran like Rolston essential, and Chiarelli wouldn't have minded adding even more to his forward corps.
"It's in your mind," Chiarelli said of the injuries affecting his goals at the deadline. "I've been pretty consistent with saying that we've wanted to add forwards. In fact, I would have liked to add two forwards, but I didn't. Again, I don't know what's going to happen with Nathan [Horton]. I expect him back but with these things I don't know.
"We were fortunate to be able to get one forward," Chiarelli added. "I don't know, there's a bunch of teams that were maybe trying and they didn't get what they wanted so we were fortunate to add to our depth. Anytime you have uncertain injuries you automatically think, 'Jeez, I've got to get deeper, I got to get deeper. So that's what we tried to do."