The Bruins added a big piece to improve their present on Friday when they acquired Tomas Kaberle from Toronto, but it was the kind of deal that's bittersweet at best for the club's scouts focusing on the future.
The Bruins gave up 2008 first-round pick Joe Colborne, one of the prize prospects in the system whom the club had already invested much time and effort in developing, and their 2011 first-round pick. That's one less chance for the team to reap the rewards of the scouts' hard work all season trekking across the globe analyzing the next class of potential future stars.
If Kaberle has the impact in Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli expects, few in the organization will complain, and they certainly won't be upset to lose another second-round pick if the Bruins reach the Cup finals or Kaberle re-signs in Boston.
Still, it's never easy for scouts to see a player they discovered depart before reaching the big club, and it's always tough to lose a shot at finding the next star in the draft. This trade also shakes up the Bruins' Top 10 Prospect List, with Colborne's departure creating a void to be filled.
Colborne had been ranked third last week, so with him gone and Zach Hamill and Jordan Caron (who is pictured above) first-round picks in 2007 and 2009 respectively, returning from stints with the big club, expect a big shakeup in the rankings this week.
Bartkowski picked up an assist in Providence's first game last weekend, but had a rough week after that with no points and a minus-5 rating in the following four games. The first-year pro had a taste of NHL action earlier this year, but with Kaberle's addition stabilizing Boston's back end, it's unlikely he'll see Boston again this year unless several injuries strike at once. That might be for the best, as the talented youngster is still a work in progress with a minus-12 rating to go with 5-12-17 totals, 36 penalty minutes and 122 shots in 50 games this season.
Cunningham's Portland club had just two games in the WHL this week, with Cunningham picking up an assist in an 8-2 win over fellow Bruins prospect Ryan Button and the Thunderbirds in Seattle. Cunningham is tied for 12th in the WHL with 21-50-71 totals in 56 games, with a plus-14 rating and 44 penalty minutes thrown in for good measure.
Arniel had a goal and somehow managed to finish a plus-1 in an 8-2 loss at Springfield last Saturday, but had no other points and was a minus-4 in the Baby B's other four games. He still leads Providence with 15-17-32 totals and 180 shots, but is a minus-10 and might have a hard time holding on to that team scoring lead with Hamill now back in Providence.
Button came out on the short end of the clash with fellow Bruins prospect Cunningham, though he did collect an assist and finished even in the game despite his club's 8-2 loss. And Button followed that up the next day with an even more impressive performance, picking up assists on all three Seattle goals in a 3-1 win over Spokane. Button is now 3-26-29 on the season with 41 penalty minutes in 55 games.
For the most part, Friday's trades were designed strictly to better Boston's chances to win now. But the deal that sent Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta for Rich Peverley did give the Bruins a potential piece for the future as well, as Valabik was also included in the return from the Thrashers. The towering Slovakian defenseman (6-foot-7, 255 pounds) is still a project despite being in his fifth pro season, but the Bruins believe he can still develop. At the worst, he adds size and toughness to the blue line, but there is some skill there as well. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2004 draft and reported directly to Providence after putting up 0-9-9 totals with 165 penalty minutes and seven fighting majors with Atlanta's AHL affiliate in Chicago this season.
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