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NHL Trade Deadline: How does Drew Stafford improve the Bruins?

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Don Sweeney is looking for some Jet-fuelled offence for the stretch run with a late, late trade

Calgary Flames v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

We thought the Bruins were done at 3pm today with no changes. Another trade deadline appeared to pass by quietly in Boston - in fact silently, with the B's making no moves whatsoever despite speculation that names like Matt Beleskey and Ryan Spooner were on the block to leave and even bigger names like Gabriel Landeskog were potential targets.

We were wrong, though, as after the deadline passed, the news broke that Boston had added a forward. Bruins fans threw around names like Patrick Sharp and Ondrej Palat as possible arrivals, but the player arriving on the Bruins forward ranks is Winnipeg's Drew Stafford.

Some would say that this is an underwhelming trade in a deadline full of them, and if you only look at Stafford's recent seasons you'd probably be right. Being paid 4.35 million a year and scoring only 13 points (4+9) this season in Winnipeg is not something that will light fires of excitement under your new fanbase - or indeed your old one.

But by focusing on Stafford's recent work only, the fans and media in Boston would be in danger of doing him a huge disservice.

This, afrer all, is a player who scored 30 goals a few years ago, 20 last season, and is still in the prime of his career at 31. He's also a player who has been acquired for, at most, a fourth round pick (at the moment, it's a conditional sixth round pick) - which, lest we forget, is a cheaper price than the Bruins saw fit to spend on Zac Rinaldo.

Stafford is a player who is a decent size at 6'2 and 202lbs, has a very good shot indeed and potentially instantly upgrades the Bruins' powerplay (that shot of his is a very useful weapon indeed and placed on the 2nd PP unit in Boston with someone like David Krejci to feed it, he could make hay). He's being lumped in with the likes of Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey but he's a level above those players, able to score and set up goals with his play.

On top of that, he's a useful penalty killer - tenacious and hard-working with a mean streak. The past few seasons have brought him to where he is mainly thanks to a combination of bad luck, injury and plain bad teams - the kind of combination that sets up redemption tales beautifully.

More than anythng else, the Stafford trade gives the B's flexibility at forward. They've acquired a player who can play anywhere in the top nine and last year was a 20-goal scorer on a bad Winnipeg team for practically nothing. If this was a deal made by a genuine contending team, it would be praised for its astuteness.

In Boston, it looks "safe" rather than "deal-breaking" and is certainly not the best deal or best fit of a player that Don Sweeney could have gone after this deadline (Stafford doesn't play as a defenseman, for a start) - but it is a trade that improves the team for very little outlay, which is more than some teams manage on deadline day.

The key is in how Stafford is used. He'll most likely be used on the third line, but that arguably isn't his most effective spot. Place him as the complementary piece to Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and the Bruins could see a dramatic effect-allow him to play as the complementary piece on the 2nd line to David Krejci, in the same way he did hs best work in Buffalo alongside Chris Drury and Thomas Vanek, and we really could see this trade work out very well indeed.

There s no question that Drew Stafford is an upgrade on what the B's had before as options - the question is just how big of one he might turn out to be.

The answer, if used to his full potential by Bruce Cassidy, could be "very big indeed".