WILMINGTON, Mass. — Last night Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he didn’t expect Chris Kelly to be able to join the team until Thursday the earliest because of visa issues.
So as I sit at Ristuccia Arena 30 minutes before practice, here are a few things that’ve crossed my mind this morning:
•Let’s assume that Tomas Kaberle isn’t as pedestrian as he looked against the Bruins last night and Montreal last Saturday. And let’s assume the price for him isn’t more than a young roster player and a draft pick/prospect. Do we start to plan a June parade just because Kaberle’s back there skating next to Zdeno Chara or Dennis Seidenberg? No way.
This is not a knock on Seidenberg, Andrew Ference or Adam McQuaid. But none are a legitimate No. 2 defenseman, the likes we haven’t seen with Boston since 2008-09 Dennis Wideman. Kaberle at this point of his career isn’t even that guy.
Basically, the only way to upgrade the back end to make this defense corps championship-caliber is to go out and get two guys. Luckily, other than Chara and Seidenberg no one among Boston’s current defense group has a no-trade clause. So if it takes picks/prospects to sweeten a deal so the Bruins can upgrade from a Ference to a Ron Hainsey or Ed Jovanovski, or from a Johnny Boychuk to a Tom Gilbert, they have to do it.
I know, you’re all thinking I’m overreacting to Boston’s three-game losing streak. But they’ve needed help back there all season. We all know that Tim Thomas’ out-of-this-world play, and some guys playing above their expected performance level covered up a lot of blemishes the first four months of the season.
The Bruins need to add two top-four defensemen to really show they’re going for the silver chalice.
•I am by no means advocating the pursuit of Brad Richards, which sounds more like a Boston Globe fantasy. Nonetheless, if the Bruins want to get a jump on acquiring a player of Richards’ caliber to have an inside track on signing him in the summer, to me the Chris Kelly deal actually makes the opportunity to pursue a deal with Dallas more sensible, not less as many have suggested.
As previously constituted, obviously the Bruins couldn’t realistically chase Richards because Dallas would start talks by asking for a young veteran like David Krejci. Trading center-for-center made little sense before Kelly came to town. But now the Bruins have Patrice Bergeron, their third-line center (Kelly) and fourth-line center (Gregory Campbell) in place. If they had to surrender Krejci for Richards, basically they’d be upgrading their No. 1 center position without weakening their depth.
We can debate the merit of trading Krejci, who has one more year left on his deal, at this stage of his development. I would argue that Krejci will never grow into the player Richards is. We can debate whether Boston should take a chance Richards would just be a two-month-plus rental. I’d say Richards is probably too pricey for a rental and is an unlikely re-sign in Boston. And we can’t be sure the Stars will move Richards rather than re-sign him. They’ve suffered a 1-5-1 stretch and I’d say they could go either way between now and the deadline.
Nonetheless, the Kelly addition makes it more plausible to chase a player like Richards.
•This morning on Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Chiarelli said that no prospect is untouchable in trade talks. That’s a positive sign. If parting with Joe Colborne or Jordan Caron, or even Ryan Spooner or Jared Knight, helps pursue a major upgrade on defense or an explosive improvement up front, Chiarelli has to do it. The odds that all these prospects people are in love with from watching them in development camps and rookie games all becoming major contributors to a Stanley Cup-caliber team are pretty slim. Trading potential for a definite, veteran producer for the current squad is the only way to take the step to the next level.
At some point, the Bruins are going to have to make a difficult decision in a trade. The next two weeks might be the time to do that.
•Finally, and this has nothing to do with the on-ice product or the team at all, but I want to thank all my readers for making the last 30 days the most successful in TheBruinsBlog.net history. Yesterday I set a new record with more than 3,000 visitors and I have exceeded 14,000 unique visitors for the past month.
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And thanks again to all my readers, those that agree with me and those that don’t.