The Bruins had plenty of options heading into yesterday's deadline.
- BUY! Mortgage the future and go get a defenseman, an elite wing and everything else under the sun.
- SELL! Pawn off pending UFA players in a veritable fire sale, replacing each with an interal player.
- DO NOTHING! Go to the North End and sip on a cappuccino while staring wistfully out the window, pondering when spring will arrive.
The Bruins had needs. The trade deadline exists, essentially, to give teams one last chance to address those needs. Given the shots across the bow that have already come from upper management, it would've been hard to place blame on GM Peter Chiarelli had he sold the farm in a desperate attempt to stock up for a job-saving playoff run.
Instead, he made a few solid, marginal moves, and may have saved his job in the process.
I'll give Chiarelli credit: he was patient yesterday, didn't make any desperate moves, and did, in fact, improve his team. He didn't plug up all of the Bruins' holes, but he didn't just sit on his hands either.
Hence, the appropriate reaction: ¯\ _(ツ)_ /¯
Meh. It is what it is, etc.
To me, yesterday's moves were a quiet admission of something that's been written on the wall for weeks now: this isn't the year, and it wouldn't be worth the price it'd take to make this "the year."
That's not to say that the Bruins have no chance at making some noise in a wide-open Eastern Conference. Montreal appears to be the East's strongest team and would give the Bruins fits, but the B's have done OK against fellow contenders New York (both of them), Pittsburgh, Tampa, etc.
The deadline was Chiarelli saying "this group probably isn't going to get us to the Stanley Cup, and that's fine." Sure, it's frustrating as a fan to accept an idea like that. But it would be even more frustrating to see Chiarelli attempt to undo past mistakes (hello, Seidenberg) by giving up a handful of picks for a marginal improvement.
Would Jeff Petry, Andrej Sekera or any of the other D targets have improved the Bruins? Yes. Would they have improved the Bruins more than the in-house promotions of Joe Morrow or Zack Trotman? Probably. But would they have improved the Bruins enough to make them legitimate Cup favorites? No.
So instead, Chiarelli played the long game: he made small tweaks that address areas of need now and is instead betting on internal pieces to bolster his blueline. For that, and for not pulling the trigger on a job-saving Hail Mary, he deserves credit.
He also deserves a heaping helping of blame too. The Johnny Boychuk trade was poorly managed. I don't think Boychuk should've been kept until the deadline, as ripping him out of the D corps at this point would've been horrible. However, trading him weeks before the season started essentially left the entire team scrambling.
He could have sold a few pieces as well. I understand that this puts him in a tough spot: if he sells too much, his team misses the playoffs and is out of a job. If he doesn't sell at all, he risks seeing assets walk for nothing at the end of the year (please take a hometown discount, Carl, but feel free to walk, Gregory Campbell).
Instead, he stood pat. He decided to stick with his guys, not doing enough to gain prospects or picks but keeping enough to (probably) still make the playoffs. Again, to sum it up: *shrug*
The moves the Bruins made improved the team. There's little arguing that. Brett Connolly came with a high draft pick for a reason. It's hard to call a guy a bust when he never really got a chance to flourish, and Connolly should get a golden chance in Boston.
The acquisition of Connolly also represents an encouraging departure from the SIZE AND HEAVINESS trope. Rather than get Chris Stewart, the Bruins went with speed and skill. Anything that leads this team out of the nostalgia-induced longing for the 1990's can only be seen as a good thing.
But then...Max Talbot. A "glue" guy. Grit and character! INTANGIBLES! At first glance, it's a questionable move. However, Colorado is eating salary. Paul Carey was a throw-in, and could turn into a decent bottom-6 guy. More importantly, Talbot has a chance to solidify what has been a black hole of a fourth line. Replacing Campbell with Talbot would be an improvement (albeit not a drastic one, based on what #fancystats say), and the end of a possession-sucking fourth line could have residual benefits up the depth chart.
Of course, this all depends on what Claude Julien decides to do with the new guy. Does he replace Campbell with him (hooray, progress)? Or does he bench Brian Ferlin, move Talbot to wing and continue Campbellmania (nooooooo)?
Talbot should at least give the Bruins a chance to roll four decent lines, something the previous fourth line could rarely do.
The Connolly addition is a good one. Connolly is a fast, skilled wing who gives the Bruins plenty of options, all of them good. Does he displace Reilly Smith and give Patrice Bergeron another talented option? Does he slot in with Carl Soderberg and move Loui Eriksson to left wing? Can Connolly play left wing and ride with Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!
To summarize, Chiarelli didn't do anything great. But he also didn't do anything awful or short-sighted. He appears willing to admit that previous mistakes have essentially cost his team this season, and wants to have a full arsenal of options available when this offseason rolls around. And to me, that's OK.
The Bruins are better today than they were Sunday. They're not as strong as they could be currently, but are stronger in the future for that restraint. Now, it's up to the players Chiarelli stuck with to get this team into the playoffs and make some noise, or it will be some other GM enjoying the fruits of Chiarelli's restraint this summer.