Bruins now turn to finding a defenseman

Bruins now turn to finding a defenseman
February 16, 2011, 8:07 am
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By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Now that the Bruins have found themselves a center to stabilize their forward group in Chris Kelly, the focus shifts solely to defenseman for the Bruins.

General manager Peter Chiarelli met with the media at 11:15 p.m. on Tuesday night to discuss the deal that sent a 2011 second-round pick a draft pick acquired in the deal with Minnesota last season for Chuck Kobasew to the Ottawa Senators for the gritty center, and revealed that the Bruins have nine defensemen on their board that seriously interest them.

Atop the list of available defenseman is Tomas Kaberle, who would lead all Bs defensemen with 37 points and 22 power-play assists and has been the subject of trade overtures from Boston in each of the last three years. He was nearly acquired in a draft-day deal for Phil Kessel two years ago in Montreal and then again last summer when the Bs were shopping Marc Savard to either the Senators or the Maple Leafs.

Now Kaberle is approaching unrestricted free agency following another lost year in Toronto, and the Bruins are once again in the market for the puck-moving defenseman capable of running the power play with surgical precision.

The Bs could have used Kaberle while going 1-for-4 on the power play and getting little oomph out of the man advantage in a 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in a frustrating game at TD Garden that had Bs coach Claude Julien spitting nails after the game.

We had four power plays. One-for-four, and there is a time where we could have maybe put the game in a different direction, changed momentum with the power play, said Chiarelli following the loss to Toronto. Thats been a recurring theme.

I think its just a solid defenseman that were looking for that can log some minutes. There are some out there like that, solid two-way defensemen. There are other defensemen also, different types of defensemen. Its hard to find a match as far as a team that is willing to maybe trade just for futures. There are different routes to get to that defenseman, but there are some decent options.

Both Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and Bruins president Cam Neely admitted to 98.5 the Sports Hub that the two teams were talking about a deal, and Kaberle is the clear players being talked about. While Sportsnet.ca indicated that Kaberle would be amenable to a trade to Boston should that work out, hockey sources told CSNNE.com that the Leafs defenseman hasnt been approached about waiving his no-trade clause.

Until Kaberle is asked to waive his blanket no-trade clause, a deal between the two teams really isnt all that close to happening. Regardless of whether or not the deal is close to fruition, the 32-year-old Kaberle seemed to be warming up to the potential idea of playing in Boston and getting to the playoffs for the first time in five years.

I would think so. Obviously they have a pretty good team and good goaltending, said Kaberle. I have played a lot of games against them and they are always tough to beat. We will see what is going to happen.

For sure it is always nice when you have a chance to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Obviously I havent played in them in five years. Right now it is tough on me and my teammates in Toronto. We dont want to have a distraction.

There were plenty of trade whispers, fake twitter accounts announcing phantom deals and rampant speculation that Kaberle would be getting dealt while Toronto was visiting in Boston, but that certainly didnt happen. Instead the Bruins will keep talking to Toronto, who sources told CSNNE.com was asking for a bit too much of a return for a strict rental player like Kaberle.

Who are some of the other defenseman that the Bruins are considering in potential deals alongside the seemingly perfect of Kaberle?

Here are some of the other names among the nine tossed out there by Chiarelli:

Chris Phillips the 32-year-old defenseman is a minus-7 with a single assist in his last 10 games, and hes passed 20 minutes of ice time per game only four times over that period of games. There are plenty of rumors about Phillips coming to Boston, but he should be nothing more than a fallback option.

Jon-Michael Liles Even worse than Phillips, perhaps, is Liles. He has one assist in his last 11 games with a minus-17 to show for it, and had a horrendous game against the Bruins in Colorado when he was stuck with a minus-4. Liles has a good offensive resume, but hes been awful for the Avs.

Joni Pitkanen Hes possibly the best combination of affordable and available defensemen should Carolina fall out of the ice, and Pitkanen become available on the trade market. As it is right now, Pitkanen isnt being offered around as the Hurricanes battle for playoff contention, but he does have eight assists in his last 10 games.

Zach Bogosian a 20-year-old defenseman who was a No. 3 overall pick three years and apparently wants out of Atlanta after underachieving thus far. Bogosian would cost the Bruins a No. 1 pick, Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler in a costly deal that might not help them win this season.

Brian McCabe The 35-year-old McCabe is out of action for the Florida Panthers with a jaw injury and hasnt played for a playoff team in a long, long time, but hes got plenty of offensive spark and power play juice to help the Bs.

Eric Brewer The 31-year-old has averaged upwards of 20 minutes of ice time per game throughout his career and has been healthy this year for the first time in three years. Brewer is on a pace for 12 goals and 20 plus points this season, and isnt the dream defenseman for the Bruins. But hed do nicely.

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