There was nothing wrong with the status quo in Boston, as the black and gold have been proving week after week they can win games even with their young defensive line and still hold on to a comfortable first place spot atop the Atlantic Division. However, with Dennis Seidenberg out for the rest of the year, it makes sense that the Bruins front office would seek out added depth on defense. That’s exactly what they walked away with at 3pm on Wednesday afternoon, but Peter Chiarelli and company could have walked away with much more.
Since Seidenberg went out with a season-ending ACL/MCL injury on December 27th against the Senators, the Bruins Goals Against Average has increased by .460 and their power play has gone from third best to the worst in the league as far as Power-Play Opportunities. Bruins acquisition Andrej Meszaros is certainly no replacement for Seidenberg in the Bruins lineup and their were better prospects within the Bruins grasp, but he is a sufficient addition to the B’s locker room and can help fill some of the holes that have developed in the Bruins defensive line over the season.
Meszaros was drafted in the first round by the Senators in 2004 and will add a lot to the Bruins blue line in terms of size, a solid left shot and strong skating. Meszaros also has the ability to play a lot of minutes, averaging over 19 minutes per game for the Slovakians at the Sochi Olympics. He could easily find himself as a part of the blue line core as Adam McQuaid’s quad injury continues to keep him out of the lineup. However, if McQuaid’s injury keeps him out for longer than the 2-3 weeks predicted by Chiarelli in Wednesday’s press conference, the Bruins could run into some problems with an inexperienced postseason player like Meszaros.
There were several defensive names allegedly floating around the Bruins front office leading up to the trade deadline, including Christian Ehrhoff, Andrew MacDonald and Chris Phillips. MacDonald was traded to the Flyers on Tuesday for a 2014 third-round draft pick and a 2015 second-round draft pick, more than the Bruins needed to give up for the 27-year-old veteran with very little postseason experience. With Meszaros, the Bruins didn’t have to give more than they were willing to give up, namely a solid prospect like Ryan Spooner.
However, the Bruins could have benefitted from a guy like Ehrhoff who has put up more points this season than both Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug. He also has a lot of postseason experience, including a run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011 that they eventually lost to the Bruins. A guy like Ehrhoff would be more suitable to handle the Thomas Vanek situation.
Just prior to the trade deadline, it was confirmed that the Islanders would be trading Vanek, who is known for having great success against the Bruins, to the Montreal Canadiens for a conditional second-round draft pick and prospect Sebastian Collberg. The Bruins have historically struggled against the Canadiens in the postseason and have already lost both games in the series to their division rivals this season. The Bruins face the Habs again on Wednesday night and will have the opportunity to see if Vanek’s dominant streak against them continues in a Canadiens uniform. Vanek has 30 goals and 61 points against the Bruins in 53 career games with 25 of his points coming on the power play. The B’s will have to prove that the young defensemen and Meszaros can fill the hole left by Seidenberg not only on the blue line, but also on the penalty kill.
The Bruins haven’t been able to defeat the Canadiens or quiet Vanek with the defense they have so far this season, but perhaps more defensive depth will be the secret. However, Ehrhoff has more experience to pull off this feat. Especially with Martin St. Louis moving to the Rangers and rumors of Ryan Kesler potentially going to the Penguins, the Bruins could use more solid defenders to fight off these offensively tough conference rivals.
Instead, the Bruins obtained Corey Potter and Meszaros. Potter, the Bruins other Wednesday acquisition, has spent most of his career in the AHL and is very unlikely to put up any significant minutes in Boston. On top of the fact that Meszaros is more inexperienced, he comes out of Philadelphia where he’s used to playing man-on-man defense and being thrown into the Bruins zone defense. In retrospect, the Bruins may not have done enough to alleviate the threat that Vanek could provide Boston with the Canadiens come Wednesday or the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the start of the summer.
The Bruins haven’t seen their last trade though. Chiarelli informed the media in Wednesday’s press conference the he had laid the groundwork for trades later on in the season. He feels comfortable with the forward depth with Jordan Caron and the players down in Providence, but the front office will most likely be striking more deals defensively as the season closes in on the playoffs.