BOSTON — It wasn't the blockbuster many had hoped for, especially with a certain Toronto blueliner in the same building on Tuesday night, but the Bruins did announce a deal after their 4-3 loss to the Leafs.
It was made with the other Ontario team, with Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli tapping into his Ottawa roots to acquire veteran center Chris Kelly for Boston's second-round pick in the 2011 draft.
Kelly doesn't have the cachet of a Tomas Kaberle, but he does add some veteran leadership, versatility and a little vigor to an energy role. The Bruins hope that leads to some more victories, especially as they have now dropped three straight games in regulation for the first time.
"Chris is a two-way center," Chiarelli said. "He has a lot of playoff experience. He's very good in the playoffs. He's a high character person. He plays both ways and we needed a centerman that is going to give us some depth. Chris is going to give us that and he can play up and down the lineup. I obviously have a connection to him from my time in Ottawa and know him as a person. He's a very good person and has very good leadership qualities."
Kelly, 30, has 12-11-23 totals in 56 games with the Senators this year, the sixth straight season he's reached double figures in goals. But he's never scored more than 15 in a year, and isn't going to dramatically improve the Bruins' offense.
What he will do is give coach Claude Julien another reliable option he can plug into a variety of roles. Kelly is a natural center adept at faceoffs and a solid penalty killer, and can also play on the wing. Chiarelli anticipates keeping him in the middle though, with rookie Tyler Seguin moving back to wing or possibly even out of the lineup at times after being a healthy scratch twice last week.
Kelly is insurance if Seguin isn't ready for the pressures of a playoff push as a 19-year-old. He's also another option in the middle next year if Marc Savard isn't capable of returning. Kelly does come at a price, as he has a $2.125-million cap hit through 2011-12. That doesn't exactly break the cap, but it is a bit pricey for a role player.
"He's under contract for next year," Chiarelli said. "With Chris, you'll have him for at least another year, which is a good thing. His market price is set and he's a known commodity. There's also good things to rentals, meaning contracts that are expiring. It gives you flexibility in the summer. But we think this is a good thing in light of we have a lot of uncertainty with Marc Savard. This helps us in that sense too."
Chiarelli was also quick to note that this trade isn't intended to be his final move before the Feb. 28 trade deadline. That defenseman he covets, whether it Kaberle or another blueliner, is still in his crosshairs.
"I've been pretty public in saying that I want to get a defenseman, and that's still in the works," Chiarelli said. "I know there's a lot of furor here today, but I've had a lot of discussions on a lot of fronts. I'd say a couple of them are closer, but I don't have anything imminent."
Chiarelli did say that he had nine defensemen he considers serious targets on his board, and not all fit precisely into the much-discussed "puck-mover" category. That move will wait for now.
On Tuesday, Chiarelli addressed the need for depth up front, tapping a familiar source for what he hopes will be a small move that yields big results.