By Joe Haggerty
OTTAWA The Bruins have made some resounding moves, and the second shoe dropped when TSNs Bob McKenzie tweeted that Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler were shipped to the Atlanta Thrashers in a surprise deal for center Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik.
Valabik will report to Providence on Saturday and Peverley will join the Bruins on Sunday.Valabik is a 6-foot-7 defenseman who's bounced up and down from the AHL level to the Thrashers over the last three years, and has spoken several times about how much he idolized Zdeno Chara while growing up in Slovakia. Valabik actually got into a fight with Chara in a game several years back when the big Slovakian blueliner nailed Phil Kessel with a hard hit, and the Bruins captain threw down on a stunned Valabik.The Slovakian will head to the Providence Bruins, and should serve as insurance and depth for the Bruins as they head into this seasons playoff journey.Peverley was put on waivers by the Nashville Predators in 2008-09, and hes really blossomed with the Thrashers as a playmaking pivot capable of setting his wingers up for golden scoring chances. The 28-year-old Peverley had 22 goals and 33 assists in 82 games for the Thrashers last season in his best year as an NHL player, and is signed for one more year after this season at 1.325 million.Wheeler was originally thought to be going to Toronto as part of the Tomas Kaberle deal, but when the Maple Leafs asked for Joe Colborne instead, the Bruins needed to find a taker for Wheeler because of salary-cap concerns.
Stuart, sources said, was originally going to be traded to Chicago in a salary-cap move, but the Thrashers asked he be included in the Wheeler trade so both players could get reunited with former Bruins associate head coach Craig Ramsay in Atlanta."This deal improves our hockey club in both the short and long-term," general manager Rick Dudley said. "With Blake Wheeler, we are getting a versatile two-way forward, and Mark Stuart will help anchor our already strong group of defensemen as we make a push toward the playoffs."It appears when the PeverleyValabikKaberle trades are finalized, the Bruins will have saved roughly 1 million in cap space for anything the team may need over the final 24 games.