Haggerty: Deadline winners showing the way for Bruins

Haggerty: Deadline winners showing the way for Bruins
June 2, 2014, 12:30 pm
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Conventional wisdom within NHL management circles over the years has been that the NHL trade deadline was an overrated hallmark within the regular season.

It would seem that the players acquired at the deadline haven’t pushed teams over the top in recent history.

Even in Boston the big ticket deal for Tomas Kaberle in 2011 wasn’t something that truly catapulted the Bruins to Stanley Cup victory, and the less-hyped moves for Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly actually did more for the Black and Gold that spring.

Either way, though, Peter Chiarelli’s savvy, prudent moves in 2011 weren’t looked at as the driving force behind Boston’s eventual Cup championship. That was a tough, battle-hardened team primed to win with a goalie playing out of his mind. Chiarelli had to settle for Jaromir Jagr in 2013 when the recently fired Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins performed an end around for Jarome Iginla, and that might have been the difference between winning or losing against the Blackhawks two months later.

Jagr went without a goal in 22 games for the Bruins, and pulled himself out of the decisive Game 6 with a bothersome hamstring injury.

All of this perhaps prompted Peter Chiarelli to underplay this season’s trade deadline when the return was underwhelming at best with Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter added to a Cup-worthy club.

"It never seems that we're an anointed winner of trade deadline day and I'm fine with that,” said Chiarelli, a few hours after the deadline passed back in early March.

The words gained in resonance when the young B’s defensemen buckled in the second round series against the Canadiens, and Montreal GM Marc Bergevin worked brilliantly at the deadline to bring in Tomas Vanek, Mike Weaver and Dale Wiese as key playoff contributors.

Neither Meszaros, nor Potter played a decisive role for the Bruins during the playoff run, and both weren’t in the lineup at the end of the series against the Canadiens. Watching the Habs’ trade deadline players excel to submarine the Black and Gold was one thing, but clearly there’s more to it than that.

There’s a developing trend across the NHL with both the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers – both clear winners at the trade deadline – as the final two teams standing for the Stanley Cup Final.

Kings GM Dean Lombardi hauled in Marian Gaborik at the deadline for the price of a pair of draft picks and journeyman forward Matt Frattin, and all the speedy, skilled Slovakian has done is lead the entire NHL with 12 goals scored for the Kings. He’s been the single-handed difference turning the Kings from offensively challenged to a team that dropped 28 goals on the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final.

One only has to wonder what the speed and skill of Gaborik could have done to spark a stagnant top six for the Black and Gold, and if he would have played with a similarly inspired energy playing with his countryman, Zdeno Chara.  

Similarly Glen Sather pulled off a big deal at the deadline trading his captain, Ryan Callahan, to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Marty St. Louis, once the Tampa Bay star decided he could no longer play for Steve Yzerman following his Team Canada Olympic snub.
St. Louis has six goals and 13 points in the 20 games played for the Rangers during this postseason, and he’s clearly changed the DNA of the Blueshirts right along with the offensive encouragement of Alain Vigneault. The Rangers wouldn’t be where they are right now if they’d stayed pat with the hard-nosed, limited Callahan at the deadline, and kept the same group that essentially quit on John Tortorella against the Bruins one year earlier.

It’s likely the Bruins would have to deal a young piece like Reilly Smith and first round picks for St. Louis, and it’s understandable that was viewed as too high a price to pay for a two-year rental with a lease to buy. That’s not a deal anyone expected the Bruins to make with a proven, stable nucleus.

But both Lombardi and Sather were bold at the deadline, and pulled the trigger on big, franchise-altering deals. Now their teams are ready to start the Stanley Cup Final this week that many in Boston felt like the Bruins should have been a part of, and felt doubly so after watching the Rangers dispatch the Canadiens with speed, speed and more speed that exposed the Montreal defense.

If nothing else it should be the Bruins’ goal – as well as the rest of the NHL – to be the anointed team at the trade deadline next season, and see how the other half lives. The Kings and Rangers have shown over the last two months that the living is pretty damned good.