One day after adding the legendary Jaromir Jagr and his 1,679 career points to their front line, the Bruins returned with another “let’s go retro’’ move on Wednesday, adding former premier defenseman Wade Redden to their back line.
Jagr, 41, has plenty of game left, while Redden’s game faltered before it was placed in mothballs a few years ago. The former No. 2 overall draft pick, age 35, will join the Bruins after recently finishing a two-year hitch in Hartford of the American Hockey League, the Rangers convinced his assets were too spent and his paycheck too high to justify keeping him with the Broadway varsity.
But now Redden, who joined the St. Louis Blues this season after being bought out in New York, has an opportunity to aid a spotty Boston back line that could use a healthy dash of Redden’s puck-moving skills of old when transitioning from defense to offense.
A premier puckhandler and passer during his days with Ottawa, where he sometimes partnered with Boston captain Zdeno Chara, Redden is a candidate to help the Bruins improve a somewhat disjointed back end that at times struggles to make quick, efficient passes. He also becomes yet one more stick carrier to help improve the club’s ever-struggling power play, although GM Peter Chiarelli made clear during a late-afternoon news conference Wednesday that Redden arrives with no such lofty expectations.
“I really don’t want to put any pressure on him in that regard,’’ said Chiarelli, addressing the media on trade deadline moves for a third time in a week. “He’s more of a heady player . . . that first pass. He’s a terrific passer, first pass, vision. He can play on the power play, but that’s not why we acquired him.’’
Instead, Redden will arrive here (possibly today) for insurance, a “depth’’ player, at a time when the Bruins are just beginning to see some encouraging signs from defensive prospect Matt Bartkowski (nearly dished last week for Jarome Iginla) and while rookie blue liner Dougie Hamilton continues to cut his teeth as the club’s premier puck-moving defenseman of the future. It could be that Boston’s puck-moving deficiencies are fully resolved by that duo. If not, then Redden, with his 455 career points in 1,017 games, at least offers an AARP alternative.
“Wade’s strength has always been his head, and his vision, and his sense,’’ noted Chiarelli, who left Ottawa in the summer of 2006, two years prior to Redden departing for his huge payday with the Rangers. “Maybe sometimes you lose your legs in that, but usually you can keep the other stuff.’’
Boston fans of a certain age will remember another aged defenseman, Brad Park, making a lot of hay here in the late-’70s and early-’80s, long after his wonky knees began to crumble. But Park, a Hall of Famer (896 points), was still vital and only 27 when he arrived early in the 1975-76 season. And he was 2-3 years younger than Redden is today when he was still spinning Garden magic. with knees wrapped, paper-clipped, and braced.
Redden’s acquisition price was minimal, a a seventh-round pick that could inflate to a sixth if he suits up for one playoff game this spring. The long-forgotten Filene’s Basement built an institution on that kind of pricing. With nothing left on the rack at Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, Chiarelli tossed Redden in his cart and raced for the register.
“Wade obviously had played in Ottawa when I worked in Ottawa,’’ noted Chiarelli, who didn’t look nearly as spent as a week before when explaining what went awry in his attempt to land Iginla. “I had to get the band back together with him and Chara. I talked to Wade and told him he’d be part of our depth here — and he was excited to come.’’
In 23 games with St. Louis, the smooth-skating Redden , favorite son of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, scored only two goals and had five points. For the two years Redden spent in the AHL, noted Chiarelli, it was as if he had beenincarcerated jailed per the consequences of his limited game and the big bucks the Rangers handed him in the summer of 2008. Now he’s here. Boston in the springtime. With a chance to show if there’s at least a little bit of spring left in his step.
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The Bruins also acquired minor league forward Rob Flick from the Blackhawks for Max Sauve. Flick, 22, will report to Providence. The center had three goals, two assists, and 97 penalty minutes for Rockford, Chicago’s AHL affiliate. Flick was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Sauve, the Bruins’ second-round pick in 2008, had 10 goals and 13 assists in 52 games for Providence.