Chiarelli: Injuries don't make trade 'any more urgent'

Chiarelli: Injuries don't make trade 'any more urgent'
March 23, 2013, 12:00 pm
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TORONTO – Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said over the summer he wasn’t going to alter the core of a team that won a Stanley Cup two years ago, and that there was a desire to how this team would fare without a Cup hangover hanging over their collective heads.

Now after watching his team for the first two months of the abbreviated NHL schedule, Chiarelli is ready to add: “we’ve been trying to fill that hole on the third line and we haven’t been able to. That’s an area we’d like to improve.”

But he’s also still very hesitant to alter any of the B’s DNA from their Cup-winning combo of two years ago.

Any players acquired could be depth guys that simply give the Bruins extra healthy bodies capable of filling in as injuries begin to assault the team in the middle of their hellish stretch of 17 games in 31 days. But Chiarelli is still looking for the bigger, better deal that will be a game-changer for the Bruins as well while waiting for Chris Kelly [broken tibia] and Adam McQuaid [strained shoulder] to return to the lineup.

“I assumed [the injuries] were coming. We’ve definitely talked about that,” said Chiarelli. “But we’ve also been fortunate. Chris [Kelly] isn’t as bad as it could have been and we’re fortunate that Adam [McQuaid] isn’t as bad as it could have been. Unfortunately we may get another injury or two. The schedule is what it is and it’s going to happen.

“We’re playing heavier hockey now too. The Winnipeg game was a heavy game, and the Ottawa game was the same thing. It’s going to be like that the rest of the way. We may get more injuries, but from the beginning I’d like to add depth: because we’ve foreseen this stuff and because we’d like to make improvements. But the injuries don’t make things any more urgent because everybody is dealing with them. Nothing has changed in that way.”

To the Boston GM’s point, Johnny Boychuk was hit in the right leg with a shot during Friday’s practice and looks like he may not play Saturday against the Maple Leafs.

So to Chiarelli “depth” doesn’t mean putting a finger in the dike when injuries start to gnaw away at the roster.

It means searching for a tough, offensive-minded, veteran leader on the wing that could bring a Mark Recchi-type impact to the team while also holding the ability to play “up” among the top six forwards if need be. Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla are the names most often associated with the Bruins, and they are definitely in on the talks surrounding both those useful – if aging – assets.

Maybe it’s Jaromir Jagr as the Dallas Stars look for a landing spot for the future Hall of Fame forward that would be a big boon to the Boston power play – and offer a thrill for David Krejci after the Bruins center watched him play while growing up in the Czech Republic.  

Ryan Clowe perhaps not as much as he’s still searching for his first goal of the season for a struggling San Jose team, and has been fighting a shoulder injury for portions of the season.

Corey Perry obviously won’t be on the market after signing an eight-year contract extension with the Anaheim Ducks, but there might be a surprise name or two made available prior to April 3 that could be considered a big game. The Bruins would be in on those talks as well with the right combination of prospects and more than $10 million in cap space to work a high end player into the fold.

Dealing with the Calgary Flames and absorbing both Iginla and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester would also be a trade that would rate pretty high on the NHL Richter scale prior to the April 3 deadline. It would also give Boston the top four lefty-shooting defenseman they’ve been looking for prior to the trade deadline as part of their hockey club improvement plan.

But a deal of that magnitude might also cost the Bruins a player from their established roster, and it might involve using one of the amnesty buyouts following this year’s playoff run. Chiarelli won’t say “never” on the possibility of dealing away one of the players that helped Boston win the Cup two years ago, but it might be a tad more realistic than it was eight months ago.

He’d like to avoid it if at all possible, but might have to pull the trigger if the right deal came along that would demonstrably improve the Black and Gold.

“You always want to try and improve,” said Chiarelli. “I want to try and keep the roster as intact as possible. I’ll never say ‘never’, but that’s been my objective. I think I’ve shown over the years I’m trying to keep the core together and I’m going to continue and try to do that.”  

That’s still a reasonable stance for somebody calling the personnel shots for a team that’s right in the thick of things in both the Northeast Division and the Eastern Conference, and still feels another long Cup run is possible out of a core that made it all the way to the mountaintop just two years ago.