The NHL trade deadline day has become must-see TV (or Internet live stream, if you’re stuck at work). It is one of the most exciting days of the NHL season, and understandably, fans come away frustrated and pessimistic if their team doesn’t make some kind of a splash.
That being said, the Bruins did not make the splash their fans wanted when the clock struck 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
With the Bruins being the lowest-scoring team in the NHL right now — they're clearly still in need of a sniper to replace Phil Kessel and the 36 goals that went with him to Toronto last September, or even the 21 goals (which most people forget) that left with Chuck Kobasew in October. On Wednesday, many expected Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to come away with some kind of scoring winger to ride shotgun with playmaking center Marc Savard, because despite retaining five 20-goal scorers from last season, the B's have hit a season-long wall trying to light the lamp.
When Chiarelli addressed the media late Wednesday afternoon, all he had to announce was that he had acquired Florida defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who would essentially replace the defenseman he dealt away earlier in the day in Derek Morris. While Chiarelli knows the fan base — and maybe even his team — wanted more, the price just wasn’t right, regardless of the plethora of draft picks he has to offer.
"I know a lot of the questions will be, 'Why didn’t we get scoring?'" Chiarelli said. "And those are very good and valid questions. Firstly, we wanted to change the composition of our defense. I can say that was an equal priority to getting some more scoring.
"I put [defense] as an equal priority because I feel that if we change the composition, that will, in itself, allow us to improve from the back end out, and that should result in better offensive production," Chiarelli added. "It allows defensemen to play in their appropriate roles."
If you look at the last two Stanley Cup champions for evidence, it is obvious that the blue line needs to produce offense for a team to succeed. Consider the Bruins' playoff series against Carolina last spring: The Hurricanes' defense — which included Seidenberg, who registered six points in the playoffs — moved through the neutral zone with ease and became the catalyst the Carolina forwards needed to win the series.
Chiarelli didn’t simply ignore the fact that some fresh scoring punch up front could help — and according to sources, Chiarelli was very much in on the likes of Ray Whitney, Raffi Torres, Keith Tkachuk, Erik Cole and Wojtek Wolski — but the asking price was simply too high. If Chiarelli wanted to acquire Wolski, sources claim it would have cost him part of his young core, and at this time, he still believes in the likes of Blake Wheeler, David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
Instead, Chiarelli unloaded Morris and gained some room under the salary cap.
"[The Morris trade] gave us some latitude there,” Chiarelli said. "[But] we felt [trading for offense] would have been just marginal, marginal improvement. Don't get me wrong, I see us struggling to score. I saw us struggle [against Montreal on Tuesday]. With the strength of our centermen and from what I saw in the eight, nine games prior to [Tuesday], I believe this team can improve in its scoring."
Chiarelli recognizes that the fans are fed up with the Bruins' current contingent of forwards — and he admitted that he failed to improve that.
"As a manager, you try and separate the direct results of the team on a day-to-day basis," Chiarelli said. "I wasn't happy with [Tuesday's loss]. We didn't try and react. … We put a lot of planning into these things. I know the fans want more scoring and they want us to have success. I know that. There's my frustration — that I didn't put that into place."
So now it’s up the current roster — Seidenberg included — to find that scoring touch, and Chiarelli is counting on it coming from the blue line.