When the dust settled on Monday’s trade deadline, Boston failed to land the impact forward or defenseman some envisioned, opting instead for Tampa Bay youngster Brett Connolly and Colorado veteran Max Talbot.
To hear GM Peter Chiarelli explain it, the lack of moves wasn’t for a lack of trying.
“It’s been tough as far as getting a trade done, getting any sort of transaction done,” he explained in his post-deadline media availability. “For us, we’re obviously under a cap crunch, but it’s just hard to get a deal done and you see the prices are so high.”
At forward, the B’s were linked to the likes of Chris Stewart (who went to Minnesota) and Cam Atkinson (who re-signed in Columbus on a three-year, $10.5 million deal). On defense, where the club has struggled this year and is shorthanded, the B’s were tied to a number of rentals — none of which panned out — and that was partly due to Chiarelli balancing the club’s immediate needs against it’s long-term health.
“We’re looking to the future and also to the present,” he said. “Our moves were necessitated by the prices and if we’re going to spend the picks that we spent, let’s look at all options, not just rental options.
“If I could fill every need, I would. It’s not a surprise or a revelation that our D, by losing [Johnny] Boychuk and [Kevan] Miller, our D is not what it was.”
When questioned about this approach given all the heat around his job security, Chiarelli was blunt.
“We’re all under pressure,” he said. “You’re a professional, you do what’s best for the organization.”
It was pretty clear, though, that finances dictated the day. It’s a financial situation that Chiarelli himself created; the bonus overages from Jarome Iginla’s contract put the B’s in a bind and led to jettisoning Boychuk prior to the start of the season, and also led to an inability to land rentals, like the club did prior to previous playoff runs (think Jaromir Jagr, Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly, Tomas Kaberle).
This year, different story. The Talbot acquisition relied on Colorado retaining 50 percent of the veteran’s salary, and Connolly — the sixth overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — was viewed as someone that could help some now, but probably pay more dividends down the road (as a RFA making just $850,500, the B’s can control his cost to a certain degree.)
“He’s going to be a top-six player,” he said of Connolly. “There’s a future for him here.”
As for the playoffs, Chiarelli said the focus hasn’t changed. He thinks the B’s are still good enough to get in, and the fight to qualify should serve the team well in the future.
“I feel we have a team that can make the playoffs,” he said. “They’ve been through a lot of adversity. The young players have grown and will continue to grow.”