Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli expects the days leading up to this year’s NHL draft to be especially active on the trade front. He just doesn’t anticipate his own club getting involved in the frenzy.
The draft is always a hotbed of trade activity, second only to the in-season trade deadline for getting deals done. But this year the trade talk leading up to the draft, which takes place Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh, has been even more intense than usual.
“There is a lot more chatter this year at this time,” Chiarelli said in a conference call with reporters on Monday.
“I think historically there’s always this talk, but I don’t know if there’s this much talk,” Chiarelli added. “It always does ramp up right now because there’s picks that will be available on Friday and Saturday. Specifically to this year, I think it’s a function of the shallow pool of free agents. So you’ve got teams that may not delve into the free agency or they’re trying to be proactive and trying to acquire guys prior to free agency because when the pool is shallow, the prices get pretty high.”
The prices on the trade market aren’t exactly a bargain, either. Columbus may finally trade star forward Rick Nash this week, but the Blue Jackets haven’t come down on their demands even after being unable to find a taker at the deadline. Edmonton and Columbus may also be open to dealing the top two picks in the draft, but those selections won’t come cheap.
The Bruins aren’t likely to get into the Nash sweepstakes and have their lineup largely set for the upcoming season. That leaves Chiarelli content to be largely a spectator in this coming wave of moves, waiting instead to explore the options in free agency and the second round of deals that will follow later in the summer.
“The reality is that the trade market right now is the most active,” Chiarelli said. “What will happen is, come July, that will take a bit of a backseat to free agency. And once we go through that first trounce of free agents, then the trade market will reemerge.
“Right now with the trade market the way it is, I’ll make some calls, but frankly I’m more apt to wait until the free agent market and then the secondary market,” Chiarelli added. “I call it the secondary trade market, but it’s fairly significant. My objective will probably be to wait unless something falls in my lap.”
If Chiarelli does get an offer he can’t refuse, it’s not likely to come completely out of the blue. He noted just how much time and effort goes into getting a deal done, and how many of the trades that take place this week at the draft will have had their origins in talks before last year’s deadline.
“A lot of the work you do leading up to the trade deadline does carry over,” Chiarelli said. “What I try to do along those lines is try to plant seeds, set up deals at the trade deadline for the summer or for the fall. There’s a lot of legwork that goes into making a trade. They’re hard to do now. My preparation for this trade market and the upcoming trade markets starts before the trade deadline.
“Usually those deals that happen or are talked about at the trade deadline are more for the moment,” Chiarelli added. “But you do get a sense of where guys feel where their roster might be in late June or early July.”
After re-signing Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly in recent weeks to keep the bulk of the 2011 Cup-winning lineup intact, Chiarelli knows where his roster stands as the draft approaches. But he’s always exploring every option to improve his club. This week’s draft will provide plenty of opportunities to do that, and not just by adding new prospects to the system with the Bruins’ own picks.