OTTAWA Monday was easily the most inactive trade deadline the Boston Bruins have experienced under the Peter Chiarelli regime.
Yet it might also ultimately be their most successful.
Two deals in the 24 hours leading up to the trade deadline amounted to shuffling cards at the minor-league level.
The Bruins dealt away their backup enforcer, Brian McGrattan, to Anaheim on Sunday night for a pair of minor-league depth players, and traded minor-league blueliner Jeff Penner along with the rights to a Finnish player theyd sent back to Europe in exchange for an AHL goaltender, Anton Khudobin. Khudobin is now slotted behind Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask on Bostons depth chart.
Not exactly deals that will capture even the most ardent hockey fan's imagination.
Bottom line: they didnt do much on NHL trade deadline day, as opposed to years past when players like Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Recchi and Steve Montador waltzed through the Boston dressing-room doors.
There wasnt much activity on our part today, said Chiarelli, with the confident tone of an executive that didnt have a need for activity at the deadline. We talked to a couple of teams. We felt that we did most of our stuff within the last couple of weeks. So today was a quiet day.
Weve done three deals where weve added three good pieces. There has been some subtraction, but we felt the net benefit was very positive. There wasnt anything that, when you look back in hindsight after doing the three deals, that I was saying Wow, that would be a good one to do. No, there wasnt anything like that.
Its perfectly okay for the Bs to just say no, however, on a couple of different levels.
The entire NHL didnt register as many deals as normally expected on a deadline day with only 16 trades ahead of the league-mandated deadline.
Then theres the simple fact Chiarelli got all of his shopping out of the way weeks in advance and was able to observe his new configuration of players perform at high efficiency on a team-bonding romp through the Western Conference.
The big fish was Tomas Kaberle, of course.
The 32-year-old All-Star defenseman has immediately jumped in and played 20-plus minutes a night while calming things down offensively for the Bs.
Chris Kelly and Rick Peverley appear to be solid role players, with Peverley able to easily replace the offense lost with Blake Wheeler.
The two centerwings give coach Claude Julien a multitude of faceoff options when theyre on the ice, and both are heady, speedy penalty killers that immediately give the special teams unit an upgrade as well. None of that is sexy stuff in the hockey world, but it wins games and makes the Bs exceedingly difficult to play against.
Those kinds of things tend to go over big in the playoffs.
The burgeoning offensive chemistry of Kelly and Peverley with Michael Ryder was also getting a bit easier to spot in the win over the Edmonton Oilers.
But there was no mistaking both new guys blocking shots, winning faceoffs and providing the little nuances that breed success in tight third period situations against the Vancouver Canucks.
The most interesting thing about this deadline for the Bruins?
This time around Chiarelli got exactly what he wanted on the trade market. He didnt settle when Marian Hossa or Ilya Kovalchuk slipped through Bostons fingers, and thats allowed his hockey team to take on an undeniably sturdy construction.
Those early deadline moves propped the Black and Gold up with a 5-0-0 road trip headed into Tuesday nights finale against the Ottawa Senators, and have poised the Bs to pass the demoralized Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference points derby.
Weve played a real solid two-way game, said Chiarelli when asked what he liked best from his newly formed unit. Weve maybe not generated all the chances we normally would, but were making really good plays. I feel were cleaner in our own end.
I like our movement better on the power play, so that speaks to confidence, too, and synergy. Goaltending has been good. Were playing Vancouver and Calgary, two tough, big teams, and I just liked our game. We competed. We played a solid game and the synergy we talked about, the four strong lines, eventually you come out ahead if youre playing your game.
The Bs probably could have gone for another depth defensemen given that Andrew Ference is likely to miss a couple of weeks, and is hitting the magic number of games hes managed to endure on average over the last three years. But Chiarelli clearly felt rookie Steve Kampfer and rugged Shane Hnidy would be enough to compliment what Boston already has on the back line.
You just know the players, you know the prices and you know the fits, said Chiarelli. So, I mean, we did the due diligence. We felt that the players we got were the ones we were targeting. I was exhausted; we were all exhausted after flying from Edmonton. So it was nice to not really have to pull a rabbit out of a hat today in the shape were in.
The rabbits of Kaberle, Peverley and Kelly were pulled well in advance of NHL deadline day for the Bruins, and its very different than the way things played out in the past for Chiarellis club.
Now its up to the pieces set in place to perform and stay healthy to see just how prudent it was to take a knee on this deadline day.