Haggerty: Bruins giddy over Kaberle trade

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Haggerty: Bruins giddy over Kaberle trade

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

It was pretty difficult to glide right on by the giddiness in the voices of many Bruins players after this weekends win over the Senators.

It wasnt happiness over an unrelenting effort in Ottawa, because it always could have been a bit better.

It wasnt about the Bs defense storming into shutdown mode, because defensive leaders like Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg admitted things certainly could have been a tad more mistake proof.

It wasnt Bostons three-goal rally in the third period that sparked up a twinkle in the eyes of grizzled hockey vets like Mark Recchi and Claude Julien eyes that have seen thousands of NHL hockey games over their years of service.

The buoyancy and excitement was all about defenseman Tomas Kaberle, and what hes going to bring to the Bs during five-on-five play and more importantly what the 32-year-old is going to contribute to the power play.

Everyone got a glimpse on Friday night at Scotiabank Place, and will have to wait for more until Kaberle catches up with the team in Calgary on Monday after taking care of the necessary visa paperwork thats all the rage during this years trade deadline.
On the ice, though, Kaberle is one of those rare guys that makes everybody else around him better in the offensive end.

He brings something we didnt have. You could see that. We were moving the puck well and quickly, and we were getting good opportunities because of it, said Chara. He brings so much to the power play and to our game. Its so exciting to have him here, and its really an honor to play with him.

It brings confidence to everybody because you know hes going to make that pass, and hes going to help everyone.

While the power play only went 1-for-5 in Kaberles first go-round, there was no denying the newly acquired defensemans potential future role as a power play specialist. Provided Kaberle doesnt have to kill penalties with any great regularity in Boston, the blueliner looks like he may just be running the point for both power play units -- and spending close to the full two minutes out on the man advantage during each man advantage chance.

Its a role that talented offensive defenseman like Mark Streit and Marc-Andre Bergeron have filled as power play specialists for the Montreal Canadiens, and its something the Bs could experiment with as Kaberle gets his game going for the Black and Gold.

That kind of cool-handed, creative presence on both units will open up the puck movement for both power play squads, and its exactly what the Bruins paid for with a first round pick, a top prospect and a conditional pick based on the Bs achieving their goals with the team or Kaberle following the year.

Hes pretty composed back there, and its pretty nice to have that puck-mover, said Recchi. There arent many guys that can do that as well. When they jump at him he can distribute the puck to where the open guys are, and there arent many of those guys out there.

It makes everybody else better because they see that and they say oh crap, I can go out there, drag the blue line and make the play. Players see that stuff, and it makes other guys better when you see it every day. Just look at it in Detroit where youve got a guy like Nik Lidstrom that you can watch do it every day. Obviously youre not going to move the puck exactly like him, but you get composed and learn how to move with the puck. When you have guys like Kaberle, it has an impact that lets other guys get better around him.

What the Bruins might not have envisioned was the influence that Kaberle could have on a young puck-moving defenseman in training like Steve Kampfer. The mobile 22-year-old blueliner has shown off the quick-skating and sound decision-making of a potential puck-mover in the making, but there werent a lot of teammates he could have patterned his NHL game after.

Kaberle will be that guy blazing a trail for Kampfer to follow, and will have a ripple effect on the calculated risks and creativity shown by the rest of the team particularly the defensemen skating in a group with him.

The biggest single Bruins player to gain in Kaberles arrival?

Its got to be Zdeno Chara, who will use his 105.9 mph slap shot as the big gun weapon on his power play unit, and will get teed up for chance after chance provided Kaberle is at the controls calmly working the puck into the open seams around the offensive end.

It makes all the sense in the world that Recchi, Chara and Julien were among the happiest with Kaberles arrival on that very first day.

But it wont take along for the rest of those in Bruins Nation to join right along with the growing chorus of Kaberle fans in Boston.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

The NHL trade deadline is now less than a week away, with plenty of movement expected despite the perpetual lack of sellers, and an expansion draft perhaps preventing some teams from taking on players they will then need to protect. 

The Bruins shouldn’t be much of a seller as long as they can continue their current good stretch for three more games before the March 1 deadline. The expansion draft shouldn’t be much of a scare either based on the players {Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Malcolm Subban) they might be in danger of losing to the Vegas Golden Knights this summer.

With the Bruins currently outside of a playoff spot by virtue of the one game in hand held by the Florida Panthers (both teams have 66 points vying for the final wild-card spot), it would be no surprise if GM Don Sweeney wanted to be a buyer at the deadline for a Boston roster that could use a big top-six winger with finishing ability, a top-four defenseman that can move the puck and a backup goaltender should Anton Khudobin have any more struggles this season.

The Bruins and Avalanche had been talking steadily in recent weeks about a possible deal for 24-year-old left wing Gabriel Landeskog, but those discussions have hit a standstill with Sweeney refusing to part with either Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy in the trade package. That's the 100 percent right move for a Bruins team that shouldn't start trading away blue chip D-man prospects. 

Landeskog has made sense for the Black and Gold because he’s signed long term with a reasonable $5.7 million cap hit, and because he’d theoretically be a good, power forward fit alongside David Krejci.

It’s that type of trade Sweeney and the Bruins are looking to make for a young player with term that will be part of the long-term solution in Boston. They aren’t looking for a repeat of last season where they shipped off good future assets in exchange for pedestrian rental players Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles and missed the playoffs anyway after dipping into the trade market.

In other words, Sweeney doesn’t sound all that keen in dipping heavily into the rental market, for a Patrick Eaves or a Dmitry Kulikov for instance, as he did a year ago.  

“Do I think we have an opportunity to make the playoffs? Absolutely, there’s no question this group has a chance to get in. Whether or not I can find a player between now and the deadline that sort of fills all those gaps, that does remain to be seen,” said Sweeney at the time of the Claude Julien firing, prior to the current four-game winning streak. 

“But I think it dovetails with the fact that I’m not going to be short-sighted. I’m going to stick to the longer term view as to what I have put in place with the intention of being able to bridge and bringing in players like David Backes and surround our guys that we get a chance to win now and be competitive now.

“I’d prefer to err on the side of a player that will integrate into us on the longer-term. Last year, we gave up draft picks. I wasn’t prepared to move players that I felt in the same regard that teams had asked for in order to get a higher-level rental or a different kind of rental. I’m not going to deviate from what I said. Are there players and we have a surplus? That’s what I want to try and evaluate and find out whether or not we can deal from a position of strength.”

Some of that may change after a current four-game winning streak with a Bruins team that looks much more playoff-worthy than the aimless group that struggled through the first 55 games. But it would have to be the perfect rental at the right price for it to make sense for the Bruins this time around and chances are that might not materialize for a team just looking to hang in there until McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Zach Senyshyn are ready to contribute a couple of years down the road.

So, would people be okay if Sweeney and the Bruins stand pat at the trade deadline if they can’t swing a big hockey deal for a young player like Landeskog who would be part of the long-term plan? Is it acceptable to just let it ride with the current group that has suddenly shown a different gear under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, and bet on the core group rising to the occasion like they didn’t the last couple of years under Julien?

The answer from this humble hockey writer is that Sweeney should pass on anything less than a home run deal for the Black and Gold. The worst thing the Bruins GM could do is get in the way of the momentum that’s naturally starting to roll with his team, or make another severe misstep with his NHL talent evaluation. Right now, draft and development seem to be his strengths, and he should lean into those and away from being a wheeler dealer with wiser, more experienced managers around the NHL looking to once again rob the Black and Gold blind.

So, there’s a chance the Bruins do very little at the deadline and, after thinking about it, the fickle fans should be perfectly okay with that as they watch a newly transformed hockey club. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Talking Bruins with Ray Ferraro

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Talking Bruins with Ray Ferraro

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready for the February heat wave headed our way.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s a podcast I did on Tuesday talking Bruins with former Hartford Whalers great and current outstanding TSN hockey analyst Ray Ferraro, who is also a great FOH (Friend of Haggs).

*Good piece on a Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster that has already gained plenty of internet plaudits for his great, and now legendary, Nick Bonino goal call in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

*It’s never too early to look at this summer’s crop of NHL draft-eligible players. Right, Kevin Allen?

*Apparently Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews has his own rap song, so he’s got that going for him…which is nice.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer Jason Brough has James Wisniewski trying to revive his NHL career after a short stint in the KHL.

*There’s a call for Nashville backup Juuse Saros to get more playing time between the pipes for the Predators.

*Larry Brooks brings his always interesting take to the Bruins situation in allowing Claude Julien to take the head gig in Montreal, and said it all came down to money. Big surprise there. I think there was also a concern from the B’s about having another PR nightmare on their hands if it was perceived that they stepped in and didn’t allow Julien to gain employment someplace else, regardless of what waited for him in the offseason. It also tells me that the Bruins aren’t afraid of Julien coaching their arch-rivals, which makes perfect sense since they just fired him.

*For something completely different: the image of Woody Harrelson in the Falcon cockpit is both jarring and super awesome.