BOSTON -- If all else fails always, assume that Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli might just nab the best available Ottawa Senators player – or ex-Ottawa player – in times like trade deadlines or the opening of NHL free agency.
That rule of thumb applied again on Wednesday as Chiarelli traded a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2014 draft for veteran 35-year-old St. Louis Blues (and former Senators) defenseman Wade Redden. The pick becomes a sixth-round selection if Redden plays in at least one playoff game this spring.
“[The Blues] had gotten a few defensemen . . . and I didn’t think anything was going to happen,” said Redden of St. Louis, who acquired Jay Bouwmeester, among others, leading up to the deadline and made him somewhat expendable. "It almost went right to the deadline.
“But I was excited. I know Boston, a number of guys there very well. I’ve seen what they’ve been able to do the last couple of years. I’m excited to be a part of that team and help them out any way I can.
“I think I’ve always prided myself on being strong in our own zone first and making that first pass. I know that’s a good group of forwards there in Boston. I think that’ll be definitely what I’ll try to do is get the puck to them as quick as I can and let them use their skill to create things. I think I just try to play a simple game.”
Redden had his best years while playing with Zdeno Chara and Chris Kelly in Ottawa, and then spent two strange years in the AHL when a hefty free-agent contract he signed with the New York Rangers became a big salary-cap hindrance.
But Chiarelli joked about getting all of his ex-Senators back together in Boston, and it that might have included Daniel Alfredsson if Ottawa hadn't responded so well to the plague of injuries this season and remained in the postseason race.
The Bruins had inquired about defensemen Ryan Whitney and Derek Morris prior to the deadline, but Whitney was pulled back by an Edmonton team in the playoff hunt and the Bruins opted not to bring Morris back for a second tour after trading him to Phoenix three seasons ago.
“Wade had obviously played in Ottawa when I worked in Ottawa. I had to get the band back together with him and [Zdeno] Chara,” said Chiarelli. “I talked to Wade today and told him he’d be part of our depth here, and he was excited to come [to Boston].
“I actually went down and saw him play a few times [in the AHL] last season. Wade’s strength has always been his head, his vision and his [hockey] sense. Maybe sometimes you lose your legs a little bit, but you always keep that other stuff. He can play on the power play, but that’s not why we acquired him. We acquired him for depth.”
Redden, who had five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and a minus-2 rating in 23 games for the Blues, isn’t likely to displace any of Boston’s current six defensemen when Adam McQuaid returns from injury. As it stands he’ll be insurance in case the defense corps suffers the inevitable injuries in the playoffs, and a veteran presence capable of stepping in if the playoff pressure cooker begins to overwhelm 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton.
Nobody is expecting that to happen, but the Stanley Cup playoffs are a whole different animal for a teenager experiencing it for the very first time.
“I didn’t want to add too many bodies, but I wanted to add some because we’re playing every other day,” said Chiarelli. “I think people get tired of seeing each other because we’re just in that game mode every other day. You want to try and get these guys some extra rest along the way, so the extra bodies will help in that way.”
Bouwmeester ended up being the best NHL defenseman traded at the April 3 deadline, and blueliners preferred by the Bruins -- like offensive D-men Dan Boyle, Mark Streit, Brian Campbell and Keith Yandle -- weren’t moved. Chiarelli said he had a chance to land a defenseman with multiple years left on his contract, but instead wanted the financial flexibility with the salary cap going down next season.
That’s a prudent move by the GM considering he still must sign Tuukka Rask to a contract extension and either sign or find replacements for both Andrew Ference and Nathan Horton next season.
“At the end, there really weren’t a lot of players made available,” said Chiarelli. “There were players available with multiple years on their contracts, and we considered a couple. But this was more about leaving us some flexibility.
“We’ve got some guys that we have to re-sign, and I’d like to try and sign those guys. I’d like to have some flexibility in the summer.”
That’s the first Chiarelli has spoken of re-signing more players than simply Rask, so that bodes well that Ference or Horton – or both – are in Boston’s plans for next season and beyond. That’s good news right along with the B’s general manager landing both the defensemen (Redden) and the top six forward (Jaromir Jagr) that he was hunting for at the April trade deadline.