Usually, Stanley Cup contenders (and their fans) look at Trade Deadline Day like Christmas morning and they can’t wait to see what shiny new toys they get to play with. For the Bruins, this year looked more like last call at the bar where someone turned the lights on and Boston scrambled to take a defensemen before everybody left for the night. So what are the Bruins getting? Boston’s ending the day with Andrej Meszaros from the Philadephia Flyers and Corey Potter from the Edmonton Oilers. For a team this close to a title, consider this severely underwhelming.
Meszaros and Potter no doubt add depth to a Bruins’ blue line that’s been hurting. Meszaros in particular is a big-bodied defenseman who can eat some big minutes come playoff time, which is what Boston was looking for at the start of the day. That being said, he’s not an ace shutdown defender by any means. Meszaros is the kind of player who won’t hesitate to jump into the play offensively, and he definitely brings more experience than Matt Bartkowski (whose spot Meszaros will most likely be taking). All things considered, it’s not a bad pick up for Boston.
But the biggest question is: Is ‘not bad’ good enough for the Bruins? Granted, there was no Dennis Seidenberg available out there, but there were deals to be made. Boston’s biggest rival, the Montreal Canadiens, picked up a Bruins killer in Tomas Vanek for nothing more than a second round pick and a prospect. It’s not like Boston didn’t have the capital to make a bigger splash, and when reports stated that the Bruins were in on Vanek, it’s tough not be frustrated by their inaction. The Bruins were also kicking the tires on the Islanders’ Andrew MacDonald, but ultimately weren’t willing to pay the price (a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick).
If the Bruins view Meszaros as the best player out there for them, then that’s one thing. But (beside the fact that’s kind of hard to believe) it’d be tough for fans to swallow that Boston was unwilling to part with non-roster assets to put this team over the top. After all, it’s not like GM Peter Chiarelli has been using those draft picks to build the Bruins into a powerhouse. Out of the 43 picks Chiarelli has made during his tenure in Boston, exactly two of those players remain on the active roster: one is Dougie Hamilton, and the other is Jordan Caron, who usually watches the games from the press box. According to history, maybe Boston would have been better off dealing the draft picks for the best player available.
If there’s a silver lining for Boston, it’s that their main competition in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins, also did next to nothing at the deadline. In general, aside from the Habs becoming a lot more dangerous with Vanek, things look the same across the conference (even with the New York Rangers making a baffling ‘trade of captains’ with Tampa Bay). The Bruins still have a good shot to come out of the conference, and once again represent the East in the Stanley Cup Finals. But they could have done more. Rather than definitively positioning themselves as the team to beat, Boston seems to be fine with the status quo.
Did Boston get better at the deadline? They absolutely did. Meszaros and Potter add much needed depth for a stretch playoff run. In particular, Meszaros has the potential to be an impact player, but potential alone isn’t worth much. It’s hard to ignore that Boston had an opportunity to go for broke, and they didn’t. Last year, Boston missed out at the deadline on moves they wanted to make, and they still made it the Finals, so it’s not as if Boston’s season is over by a long shot. It’s just disappointing to see a team this close not push for that one extra piece. The Bruins might very well win the Eastern Conference again, but they certainly didn’t win the day at the deadline.