Peter Chiarelli Admits He Must Get ‘Creative’ As Bruins’ Need to Improve Becomes More Pressing

Peter ChiarelliPeter Chiarelli stood in front of the Boston media Thursday afternoon looking like a tired and beaten man. In many ways, there were no better words to describe the Bruins general manager.

Hopefully for his own physical sake he got a little bit of shut-eye after that revealing news conference, but he doesn’t have much time to rest. But then again, there’s no rest for the weary, and there’s certainly no rest for NHL general managers leading up to the trade deadline — especially GMs who just saw a big catch swim away only to jump in the opposition’s boat.

That’s what happened with the Bruins and Jarome Iginla. The former Flames forward chose the Penguins over the Bruins, and that all came after the Flames and B’s had a deal, at least according to Chiarelli. The GM laid out that and everything else about the Iginla trade that was (only until it wasn’t) during his presser Thursday. That situation, however, is over. It is no more. Iginla will wear a Penguins sweater for the rest of the season. Chiarelli knows better than anyone else that it’s time to move on.

Now it’s back to the task at hand, which is trying to improve the Bruins before the April 3 trade deadline comes and goes.

“There’s players out there, and we’re in on players,” Chiarelli said Thursday. “There’s always other players, and that was a good player, that was a real good player. There’s always other players.”

However, it’s a weird year for NHL GMs who want to improve their team before the deadline. Teams that would normally be sellers aren’t necessarily open to selling off parts. Also complicating things is the fact that the salary cap is going down next season, making a player like Martin St. Louis, who is signed beyond this season, a little dicier (not to mention expensive). At the same time, as Chiarelli pointed out Thursday, that’s going to make it a little easier to acquire players whose contracts expire after the season.

“The circumstances change, as far as, from the [salary] cap perspective for next year,” he said. “It’s going down, so you have to look — it makes rentals a little bit more valuable this year to a group of teams, including ourselves. So, you have to be a little bit more creative, then you have to open up your decision process to more things, and take it from there.”

Chiarelli admits that it would be easier to go that route, but he also yielded that he may not have to look in other directions, as well. That doesn’t make anything less scrambled, though.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of marks up on my board right now. It’s like a yard sale up there.”

It would seem that the Bruins face an uphill battle. The Penguins are the hottest team in sports, let alone the NHL, and they have only gotten better in the past week or two. They added Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray. Oh, and Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup on Thursday. To lazily use a cliche, the Pens are the best team on paper. But to lazily use another cliche, the Stanley Cup isn’t won on paper.

Chiarelli knows that, but he also knows that he must keep pace one way or another. He continues to pledge that the Bruins will improve their team. So far, however, that pledge has fallen short, with Ray Shero and the Penguins getting the better of the Bruins in the case of Iginla and Morrow.

“Well they’re a lock, right?” Chiarelli sarcastically quipped Thursday. “They’re a good team.”

Now Chiarelli must take his game to another level if he wants the Bruins to reach another level.

“If the ultimate goal is winning the Cup, I’m confident that we’re a serious contender,” Chiarelli stated. “I think we can with our team, but I think we have to be improved. There’s a lot of luck involved. You have to see everyone clicking. We have an ability to add players, but it’s been the hardest that I’ve ever seen in my years, just because of the short supply.”

That may be true, but Bruins fans may not be willing to hear that if April 3 comes and goes and the club hasn’t made some sort of an upgrade.