The reaction from Bruins fans today will probably be summed up well with the following tweet response:
@AdamMKaufman this isn't exactly the kind of move that is going to jolt people awake— Curtis Fingers (@curtisfingers) March 2, 2015
Yes, the B’s made a move overnight to hopefully bolster their offense. No, it probably wasn’t a game-changer and most certainly doesn’t compare to the support a move for Keith Yandle or Eric Cole might have demanded in the right deals.
Announced by Boston right around 2 a.m., the Black and Gold added speedy forward Brett Connolly from the Lightning in exchange for their own second-round draft picks in 2015 and 2016. General manager Peter Chiarelli will address the transaction when he meets with the media at 5 p.m. The NHL’s trade deadline wraps at 3 p.m.
Connolly, drafted sixth overall by Tampa Bay in 2010, is just 22 and would be viewed as a depth addition on most contending clubs, given his modest totals of 12 goals and three assists in 50 games this year. Case in point, he was averaging 11:55 minutes a game (1:59 on the power play) as a third-line right winger alongside Valtteri Filppula and Cedric Paquette for the Lightning after spending most of the last two seasons in the AHL with Syracuse, where he scored 52 goals and recorded 120 points in 137 contests.
For the B’s, though, the right-handed shot will likely be someone leaned on to bolster a depleted and disappointing offense that’s spent the year littered with injuries. It remains to be seen whether he’ll slide onto the fractured top-line featuring Milan Lucic and Ryan Spooner (eventually, hopefully, David Krejci), but he’s obviously a prime candidate to do so over someone like David Pastrnak, who’s played well in a limited opportunity but is clearly inexperienced.
As Dan Cagen speculated in the MetroWest Daily News, Connolly could also fit on the team’s third line with Swedes Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
Boston visibly needs the help. Prior to breaking out for seven goals in wins over the Devils and Coyotes to close out a 4-5-2 February, the Bruins were averaging 2.4 goals over their first 10 games of the month. The B’s are scoring just 2.6 goals a game for the year to rank 21st, one season after finishing third with almost 3.2 goals a night. As we know, though, much has changed since capturing the Presidents’ Cup Trophy, most noticeably the absences of Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk.
Financially, Chiarelli still has plenty of room to work should he add another forward or that coveted top-four defenseman, since Connolly is only on the books for $850,000. He’s a restricted free agent this summer and won’t be unrestricted until 2018.
Giving up two future second-rounders for Connolly may appear to be a steep price for a once-hyped first-round selection that’s yet to really pan out, but there's a lot of scoring potential there and at least the Bruins’ long-term control over his services will allow Connolly to continue to grow within the organization should Boston elect to keep him around. Presumably, the B’s will; after all, Jordan Caron is still here. Moreover, Boston still holds second-round selections previously belonging to the Flyers (2015) and Islanders (2016) in the upcoming two drafts.
Seemingly, Chiarelli isn’t done yet. With men like Yandle (Rangers), Cole (Red Wings), Antoine Vermette (Blackhawks), and Andrej Sekera (Kings) off the board, that big move may not be coming. There’s time, though.
Cam Atkinson? Chris Stewart? Don’t bet on it, but we’ll see.
Currently, the Bruins lead the Panthers by two points for the second and final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, with 20 games to play. Florida’s played one extra game.
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