BOSTON -- The Bruins seemed to be on the periphery of some big things, but came away from the NHL trade deadline with defensemen Corey Potter and Andrej Meszaros. They're not exactly the names that would make anybody suddenly utter "championship" with some Original Six swagger.
Potter was a waiver pickup from the Edmonton Oilers as a right shot D-man capable of stepping in should Adam McQuaid continue to have issues with his lower body injury. The Flyers defenseman, Meszaros, arrives in Boston via a third round pick in the 2014 draft as most of the other blueliners on Boston’s board went elsewhere.
Peter Chiarelli and the Bruins missed out on Andrew MacDonald, Chris Phillips and Stephane Robidas, who were up higher on Boston’s board of available defensemen when the action began in earnest on Tuesday morning.
MacDonald was dealt to Philadelphia for a pair of draft picks and a mid-level prospect, and it would appear the deal took place between the Flyers and Islanders without Chiarelli able to get his best offer on the table.
Chiarelli understandably wouldn’t part with a first round pick for MacDonald, an Islanders defenseman that was considered the best option available among the rentals.
The fact the Bruins were never able to put their best foot forward to land MacDonald has to be considered a disappointment no matter what shade of Black and Gold glasses somebody is wearing.
The Bruins coveted Phillips for his big, physical style, playoff experience and willingness to block shots, but had a sense days ago that the 35-year-old was never going to be leaving Ottawa.
The Bruins also weren’t able to nab right shot depth in the scrappy, gritty Robidas, who was shipped from Dallas to Anaheim for a conditional fourth round pick.
Couple those failures prior to the deadline with the Meszaros acquisition they did make for a third round pick, and it’s pretty clear this season’s trade deadline isn’t going to go in the books as one of Boston’s best. Meszaros has been scratched by the Flyers 24 times this season, and things like effort and conditioning have been issues with the 28-year-old during his time in Philadelphia.
It’s also troubling that Meszaros dressed for only game in two rounds of the playoffs for the Flyers during the 2011-12 playoff run for the Broad Street Bullies. He’s got the size at 6-foot-2, 220-pounds, and Meszaros has a cannon shot from the point. He’s got 5 goals and 17 points along with a plus-1 for the Flyers, and has averaged 17:22 of ice time that signifies a bottom-pairing defenseman for one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
But he’s not considered the most physical player around for a team that demands that from the defensemen during the playoffs.
The one shining hope here: that reuniting Meszaros with his former defensemen partner in Ottawa and Slovakian countrymen, Zdeno Chara, can spark the inconsistent blueliner to a couple of inspired months for the Black and Gold prior to free agency. The 30-year-old Potter is nothing more than insurance should Adam McQuaid not be able to regain his health prior to the playoffs, and doesn’t really factor much into Boston’s efforts at the deadline.
In the parlance of baseball sabermetric terms, Potter is a replacement-level defenseman.
All anybody has to do is take a look at the Montreal Canadiens putting out a second round pick and a prospect to land erratic, wildly talented forward Thomas Vanek, who is a certified Bruins killer during his time with the Sabres and the Islanders. The Habs went for it and landed one of the big fishes at the trade deadline, and postseason success traditionally smiles on those teams.
That goes doubly so in the new playoff format where teams need to battle their way out of the division before advancing to the final rounds of the playoffs. The Bruins added a bit of depth to their lineup on Wednesday afternoon, but they didn’t make their team demonstrably better.
That’s not good enough for a team that only has another 3-4 year championship window with an aging Chara, and a championship nucleus that’s currently right in the sweet spot of their prime.
That makes NHL trade deadline day one of those moments people will look back on with second-guessing and regret should the Bruins fail to reach their designated goal of another Stanley Cup.