"...a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing"
Macbeth, act V, scene 5.
William Shakespeare was writing about life itself, but he might as well have been writing about Don Sweeney's trade deadline day in 2016. The Bruins spent the day being linked with top four defensemen and constantly mentioned in any discussions around some of the league's premier targets today, but in the end, they made only two moves - neither of which are likely to set the world alight.
After a day of much talking and much sound and fury from Boston media with regard to what the Bruins could be planning, the B's post-deadline don't look massively improved from the B's before the deadline - which is to say they still have issues defensively that haven't been addressed and a superstar UFA whose future is uncertain. They do, however have some new faces - let's look at them.
D JOHN-MICHAEL LILES (from CAR, for 3rd rounder, fifth rounder, C Anthony Camara)
After all the talk of Hamhuis and (terrifyingly) Kris Russell, the Bruins shopped a little further down the aisle. With Kris Russell being traded to Dallas for an insanely high price (Jyrki Jokipakka, a pick AND Brett Pollock) the Bruins dodged a cruise missile rather than a bullet earlier in the day, but discussions over Dan Hamhuis broke down after the Canuck seemingly refused to waive his NMC.
Patrick Wiercioch was seemingly the perfect backup plan with rumoured price of solely a 2nd-round pick - however, there was seemingly not even a discussion from Bruins. As time wound down, news came in of discussions for the 35-year-old, who is more expensive than Wiercioch both in terms of contract and return. So how does he compare?
Hmm. Liles is better at shot suppression and playmaking - while spending much more time on ice than Wiercioch. However, at nearly double the price of the Sen and giving up two picks and a prospect, he's also more expensive, as well as being ten years older.
He's definitely not a long-term solution to the B's problems, but he steps in at number 3 on this team and is an upgrade on names like Seidenberg (and again, he's far better and cheaper than the alternative rental, which is Kris Russell). The B's haven't given up a huge amount (relatively) either - Antony Camara was never going to make the B's roster and the picks are not high.
LEE STEMPNIAK (from NJD - 2nd round and 4th round picks)
Stempniak is the Devils' top scorer at the time of the trade, and will add some depth to the B's roster in terms of scoring at a cheap price. He's an acquisition that adds to the Bruins forward depth and gives legit flexibility in the B's forward group beyond what they already have. As an experienced pro, he'll contribute to the team well.
However, the issue here is the price. A 2nd rounder and 4th for a player you rejected in tryout camp at the beginning of this season smacks of horrendous asset management - couple that with the 3rd rounder wasted in the Rinaldo trade and you have to continue to ask questions about the long-term viability of the Sweeney/Neely partnership. But he will make the B's better in the short term, without question.
Expect Stempniak to make his way in on the second line, although he's potentially a fit for Bergeron and Marchand on the top unit if the Bruins staff want to try Brett Connolly in a new role (and they probably should). Defensively responsible with a scoring touch, he'll strengthen the B's heavily and provide a counterpart to Loui Eriksson thus:
The main issue with these moves is that they're GREAT moves on a contending team. On a team like the Bruins, they are at best papering over the cracks in a desperate hope that this B's team can contend in a poor East even with the many flaws it still has. While they undoubtedly make the team better in the short term, it's doubtful that either player will be a long-term Bruins acquisition.
There's a theory that Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly and Stempniak will be the moving pieces. With Stempniak's production so far this season, he should be given a chance on the 37-63 line to make magic happen-whether he will be or not is another question.
However, long-term, this deadline saw the Bruins fail to make a move either way. They neither committed to Loui Eriksson nor cashed in on him, meaning that Don Sweeney seriously risks letting arguably the deadline's biggest asset walk for nothing. Both pickups make the B's stronger now without a question, but the defensive issues may still look large in the summer.
Overall, this is a deadline where Sweeney and Neely tried to walk a tightrope between success now and preparing for the future, but didn't really come down hard enough in either camp.
In a weakened East the B's now have more chance of a Cinderella run in the playoffs...but it's a deadline that still leaves far too many unanswered questions overall.