So, we're into NHL Estate Agent Christmas Day, otherwise known as NHL Trade Deadline day, and already the Bruins are active in the market, trading two 2nd round picks for young Tampa winger Brett Connolly. On the surface of it, this would seem to be a big payment already for a player with only 18 goals in 132 games in the NHL so far. However, in Chiarelli's defence, 12 of those have come in 48 games this season with Tampa, as the 6'2, 201lb forward has found some success adding some scoring to the Lightning's 3rd line along with Valteri Filppula.
However, the obvious question is-where does he fit in with the Bruins? Is he a harbinger of more deals to come in Beantown today?
Certainly he's a player who you'd think would at least be looked at to take a 3rd line RW role-currently occupied by Loui Eriksson. Is Connolly's arrival a hint that the ex Dallas Star could now be in play as a trade piece, either for picks in a rebuild or as part of a package for an impact player if the front office decide to go for it?
Maybe the Reilly Smith trade rumours that have been hanging around recently could be given added credence with another young, pretty quick forward with a potentially useful goalscoring touch being brought into the Bruins organization. Looking at the other players at his position currently up with the NHL squad, you have to think that Pastrnak is going nowhere, but Smith and Eriksson suddenly become just a little more expendable with Connolly ready to plug into one of their places.
Both players would more than likely attract some interest if dangled-and Eriksson's $4 million cap hit is a weight that Chiarelli will at least consider getting rid of if he decides to go the way of a rebuild, despite the Swede currently being third on the team in scoring.
Connolly is an intriguing if flawed player-his 3 assists in 48 games and 12 goals only are not numbers that leap out at you, but his consistent and prolific form for Syracuse in the AHL speaks of a player that may just be looking for the right linemates to get going in the NHL.
The really confusing thing here is the price. It could look like an absolute steal down the road, but right now not one but two second-rounders for a player who's only really established himself as a regular NHLer this season seems like a slight overpayment based on his form. The fact that only picks are being given away gives an initial indication that the "sell at the deadline" plan advocated by many Bruins fans in the past week or two may not be the same though that the Bruins front office have.
Everything written about Connolly so far suggests that he's a talent with a very high ceiling who's shown flashes of brilliance since the Lightning drafted him 6th overall in 2010, including a World Junior Championships where he scored 5 goals in 6 games in 2012 and was second in goalscoring on a Canada team that also included the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau & Ryan Strome...but he's not shown them consistently. He's just the sort of "project" that could turn out to be a genius move. Trouble is, he could also turn out to be one of the classic "wasted potential" stories.
Either way, his acquisition is an intriguing start to deadline day by the Bruins...but right now it's one that raises more questions than it does answers.