It wasn't a waiver move that made a huge splash. On Sunday night, the Bruins picked up forward Landon Ferraro from Detroit. Most likely peg the transaction as an unremarkable depth move, others as strengthening Providence and the really uncharitable as simply doing something for the sake of doing something.
But in picking up the 6', 180lb centre/winger, who up until now had spent his entire pro career in the Red Wings system, may prove to be one of the most astute bits of business Don Sweeney has done so far. Let me explain.
Ferraro is a shoot-first forward who is known for playing a hard-working game. He's not a board-banger who'll charge around the ice looking for people to hit, nor is he a player who'll look to send a message with rattling hits or physical contact.
However, what he is is an incredibly fast-skating, tenacious forward who is equally comfortable placing himself in front of the net as drifting around the slot looking for an inch of space to use his excellent snapshot and eye for goal. A soldi goalscorer in juniors with the Red Deer Rebels, he was picked up by the Red Wings with the intention of grooming him in the Detroit tradition of hard-working, solid two-way forwards with a large amount of playmaking/scoring ability, and it's been fascinating to watch his development through the Wings system over the past few years.
What the Bruins are getting now is a player a million miles removed from the raw, talented youngster the Wings drafted. Ferraro's flashes of talent have been moulded by arguably the best youth development system in the NHL into a player who is showing real potential of making a permanent step up to be a solid NHL two-way forward-one, indeed, who the Wings have been grooming the past season or two in that exact role.
His AHL numbers are, admittedly, not bad but not world-shattering - (75+65 in 240 games). However, take those numbers season by season, and in amongst the slight ups and downs you'd expect of a young, developing player, there is a clear development path being shown as Ferraro gets better and better at both ends in the ice, forced to compete for icetime in a stacked system in Grand Rapids.
Last year saw his best season yet as a 27-goal year in Grand Rapids was rewarded with a call-up to the NHL for the final ten regular season games and playoffs. Again, while Ferraro didn't show any earth-shattering breakout (indeed, he didn't score any points at all) this can be put down in a large extent to the way the Wings ease their prospects into NHL action.
As to why Ferraro was put on waivers - the simple fact is that the Wings simply had no room for him. In such a crowded system, there are some very, very good players who will slip through the net - and Ferraro's injury early this season and need to reassign to the AHL for conditioning created an opening for an ambitious team to grab a very good two-way scoring forward just begging for a chance to break out at the NHL level.
Ferraro is fast and with an eye for goal-he has a way of getting open in offensive positions that's instinct, not taught, and is incredibly strong in front of the net. In that way he's very similar to his father (Ray Ferraro) in his prime. He's also got the tenacity Bruins fans love and is known as an intelligent, articulate player.
He is, in fact, very reminiscent of a certain two-way centre and current Bruin who also happens to be a Bruins legend waiting to happen
Granted, many will scoff at comparisons of Landon Ferraro to Patrice Bergeron, and there is no way that the two players can be said to be on the same level....yet.
But having two very similar players in the same team and having Ferraro in a position to learn and emulate Bergeron is one hell of a position for the Bruins to be in, one that could see their new acquisition go to another level.
In short, he's one hell of an asset - the kind that very rarely fall into opposition teams laps for free. Consider those assets when they come from the best talent production line (arguably) that the NHL has to offer and all of a sudden you have a potentially very solid asset indeed.
Combine that talent and development with the chance to hone those skills under a similar player who just happens to be one of the best if not the best in the NHL at doing the same job, and with Ferraro's proven work ethic, willingness to learn and drive, and the Bruins may have just found themselves a true diamond in the rough.
All it needs is for Bergeron and Ferraro to keep working together. The results could be astonishing. And lead to this pickup being looked upon as the kind of steal even Whitey Bulger would be proud of.