Boston believes it's a contender after Kaberle blockbuster

by | CBSSports.com Staff Writer
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A Friday flurry to finish a week filled with trades.

Seems about right, doesn’t it?

The fun started with the Colorado Avalanche sending Craig Anderson to the Ottawa Senators in what seemed like a meaningless exchange of disappointing goaltenders. Then the Boston Bruins kicked things into high gear with a pair of deals that included a blockbuster that landed them the kind of player most contenders covet right about now, defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

Makes you wonder how the Canadian networks are going to fill all those hours of airtime on trade deadline day.

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It’s a national viewing party north of the border, you know, and it starts early in the morning. But it could be anticlimatic with so many teams doing their Christmas shopping early and avoiding the inevitable rush. And no buyer has been busier than the Bruins, a team that is telling everyone it has serious Stanley Cup aspirations this season with all their moves.

Boston will be hard pressed to catch the Philadelphia Flyers for first place in the Eastern Conference, but they made it clear they are building for a long run this spring by turning into that guy three blocks from the stadium with a sign that says “Need tickets.” The Bruins have been out there shopping for weeks. With the market starting to move as early as it has this season, and with the added cap space from Marc Savard being on long-term injury reserve not hurting matters, GM Peter Chiarelli wasted little time getting in on the action, making some significant changes to the roster with three deals in the last couple of days.

Getting Chris Kelly from Ottawa on Tuesday for a second round pick deepens Boston on the third line and penalty kill, and adding sniper Rich Peverley, who came from Atlanta along with defenseman Boris Valabik earlier today, will boost the offense. But the big prize was Kaberle, one of the top offensive defensemen in the league and someone on the wish list of several teams.

Is Tomas Kaberle the missing piece to propel the Bruins to the next level? (Getty Images)  
Is Tomas Kaberle the missing piece to propel the Bruins to the next level? (Getty Images)  
Kaberle didn’t come cheap though, costing the Bruins a first round draft pick and prospect Joe Colborne, the 16th overall pick in 2008. Boston threw in a conditional second round pick as well.

“We felt right now in this market there wasn’t a player close to him available,” Chiarelli said.

Kaberle wasn’t available to everybody, either. In fact, Kaberle was open only to the Bruins, by his own choice. The 32-year-old veteran had a no-trade clause in a four-year deal that ends after this season, and he has remained adamantly opposed to waiving it for the last several seasons.

But with his unrestricted free agency looming and the Maple Leafs not certain about re-signing him, Kaberle agreed take his offensive skills to Boston, where they should have a much more meaningful impact than in Toronto for the last several years.

It’s a deal that concludes nearly two years of attempts by Boston to acquire Kaberle. The Bruins thought they had him at the 2009 draft when Maple Leafs had a brief window to trade Kaberle and offered him up for Phil Kessel. But negotiations broke down and Kaberle remained in Toronto with a team that has been in a constant state of rebuilding since the lockout, playing amid constant rumors about his future there.

Eventually the Maple Leafs landed Kessel in a deal that cost them two first-round draft picks, and now they’ll get back part of that back. Toronto added another first-round pick earlier this week when it dealt Kris Versteeg to the Flyers, but the Bruins still come out the winners here because they’ve added an important dimension that their deep and talented roster may have been lacking for a deep playoff run.

Kaberle could be the missing piece for the Bruins because of the way he can move the puck and join the attack. He isn’t a physical defenseman, but he can handle his end and will probably be more comfortable and arguably more effective with Zdeno Chara being the spotlight player on Boston’s blue line.

Most important, Kaberle’s power play quarterbacking skills will give some much needed juice to that Bruins special team, something that has to improve if Boston is looking to go deep this season.

These days, Boston has 43-year-old Mark Recchi, a forward by trade, manning one of the points on the power play. The ageless veteran is still pretty good in front of the net, but he doesn’t have the shot or the quickness to be directing thing from the point.

Kaberle will immediately take over that job from him, and playing opposite of Chara, will give the Bruins a much more dangerous look with the man advantage. And overall.

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