Kobasew dealt; Lucic lands on IR
Even before the Bruins’ 4-1 loss Saturday in Phoenix, a game in which Boston showed zero fight once the Coyotes made it 2-0, Peter Chiarelli was not pleased with the atmosphere surrounding his players.
They were too comfortable, believed the general manager. Too sleepy. Too full of themselves following an Eastern Conference regular-season crown. Too confident that with a flick of a switch, they could turn things on and revert to the 2008-09 version - which, considering its regular-season achievements, fell short of expectations.
“We won one playoff round,’’ Chiarelli said.
Yesterday, Chiarelli chucked a grenade at his slumbering club by pulling off a string of transactions, highlighted by the trade of Chuck Kobasew to Minnesota. In return, the Bruins received Minnesota’s 2011 second-round pick, the rights to recent fourth-round selection Alexander Fallstrom, and 28-year-old depth forward Craig Weller.
The Bruins also placed Milan Lucic (broken right index finger) on long-term injured reserve. Lucic, who suffered the injury in the second period of Friday’s 3-0 win over Dallas, must now miss at least 10 games and 24 calendar days. Given the length of time Lucic will miss (the left wing will not be eligible to dress until Nov. 10 against Pittsburgh), it’s likely he’ll need surgery to correct the injury.
To round out the lineup, the Bruins recalled Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka from Providence. Guillaume Lefebvre, recalled on an emergency basis Saturday and loaned to Providence yesterday, was also brought back up.
Kobasew, a former Boston College standout, landed in a Black-and-Gold uniform in what was one of Chiarelli’s shrewdest trades. Kobasew and Andrew Ference arrived via Calgary Feb. 10, 2007, for Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau, and a 2008 fourth-round pick.
In 2007-08, the gritty right wing punched in a career-best 22 goals while adding 17 assists. Last season, Kobasew scored 21 goals and 21 assists in 68 games. In 11 playoff games, Kobasew added three goals and three assists, finding a home alongside Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi on coach Claude Julien’s matchup line.
Kobasew was expected to play a similar role this season on the No. 3 line. But the 27-year-old, who relies on speed and grit for his offense, looked out of sorts through seven games.
Kobasew’s underwhelming performance, his $2.33 million annual salary (he becomes an unrestricted free agent after 2010-11), and the Bruins’ sputtering start made the No. 3 right wing the leading candidate to be moved. And with Minnesota playing even worse than the Bruins, Chiarelli found a taker in new Wild GM Chuck Fletcher.
Fallstrom, Minnesota’s fourth-round pick in 2009, is a freshman at Harvard. The 6-foot-2-inch, 192-pound forward served as captain last year at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, the powerful Minnesota prep school that counts Sidney Crosby among its former players. The 19-year-old is unsigned.
The 6-4, 220-pound Weller appeared in five games this season for Houston, Minnesota’s AHL affiliate, recording one assist and seven penalty minutes. He has appeared in 95 career NHL games.
Because the Bruins are now without Kobasew and Lucic, Sobotka and Marchand could see regular ice time in the coming weeks.
This is the first NHL recall for the 21-year-old Marchand. The second-year pro, Boston’s third-round pick in 2006, had a strong camp and advanced to the second-to-last round of cuts. Last season, Marchand was one of the AHL’s best rookies, scoring 18 goals and 41 assists in 79 games. Marchand has five goals and one assist in five AHL games this year. Marchand can play both wings, and is best suited for an agitator role, although he’s shown a knack of scoring.
Lefebvre made his Bruins debut Saturday because of Lucic’s absence. The left wing, skating with Steve Begin and Shawn Thornton, saw 11:01 of ice time. He appeared in yesterday’s 7-2 Providence victory over Portland, then was brought back up on emergency recall. Lefebvre might be in the lineup Wednesday against Nashville if Byron Bitz is unable to play. Bitz has played through neck pain the last two games, and didn’t look comfortable Saturday while skating with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci.
The flurry of movement comes before a tough stretch. After hosting Nashville Wednesday, the Bruins will play in Philadelphia the following night. Two nights later, they will play in Ottawa against the Senators, who are in second place in the East with a 5-2-0 record.