Some people obviously think Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is some sort of riverboat gambler. If his stint in the Hub has taught us anything, it’s that Chiarelli leaves little to chance and gets done what he wants to complete quietly and quickly.
That’s why a suggestion over the weekend that Chiarelli try to ship restricted free agent Phil Kessel to Anaheim for the rights to unrestricted free agent Francois Beauchemin definitely doesn’t fit with Chiarelli’s usual approach to these situations.
Dealing your 21-year-old leading goal-scorer, who you control and hold the right of first refusal on as an RFA, for a 29-year-old defenseman with no guarantee he’s going to ink a deal with Boston compares favorably with betting on what number between one and 1,000 a person is thinking of.
Taking this idea a little further, let’s just say that the Bruins and Ducks do a sign-and-trade, with both players inking new contracts before the deal. The money for both players would probably be pretty close, with Kessel possibly getting $1 to 1.5 million more. That’s not exactly helpful to Chiarelli’s quest to also re-sign Matt Hunwick and Byron Bitz and have some room for help next season. The defense corps would be improved, but crowded. Beauchemin would take minutes away from Hunwick or Andrew Ference, plus he’d throw off the Bruins’ balance of left- and right-handed shooters from the back end. Another deal would have to follow, and Chiarelli never seems to relinquish leverage when trading or signing players.
The Beauchemin proposal also ignores the fact that Kessel is an extraordinary talent, which I already explained last week. Beauchemin is a solid puck-mover who two years ago put up 21 points in 82 games (he was injured for most of 2008-09), and he’s probably going to find the defense-hungry open market amenable to giving him a healthy raise from his $1.65 million cap hit of last year. He might even get more money from Anaheim. There’s no telling if the Ducks will even move him — not until they have a decision from future Hall-of-Famer Scott Niedermayer and then explore dealing the higher-priced Chris Pronger if Niedermayer is coming back (a deal the Ducks pursued before the March trade deadline).
Shipping Kessel out of town is already enough of a risky proposition with his overflowing potential for offensive magnificence and his evident willingness to improve his all-around game at just 21. There are way too many reasons to count why shipping him away for someone’s rights or even a signed defenseman of Beauchemin’s ilk would be a losing gamble.