The NHL Trade Deadline closed yesterday and, when the dust settled, despite what many rumors indicated, Loui Eriksson was still a Boston Bruin. The Bruins, who are currently sitting at third in the Atlantic, appear to have their sights set on the present.
The indication of this was the fact that the Bruins held onto Eriksson, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year, and would have brought in considerable assets for the future. But instead of stock-piling draft picks and prospects, they actually gave away four picks over the next two drafts and a prospect for 35-year-old and 33-year-old John-Michael Liles and Lee Stempniak from the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils, respectively. These are a couple interesting moves for a team that sent away a bulk of their team and drafted three players with first round picks in the most recent draft, appearing to be keen on building for the future.
So, which one is it? Are the Bruins building for the future like their offseason moves implicated, or are they in it to win it now as indicated by their trade deadline moves?
Stempniak is having a career year so far with 41 points, which was the most on the offensively-challenged Devils. The Bruins actually offered Stempniak a professional tryout before he signed with the Devils, which basically means the Bruins not signing him back in the fall cost the Bruins a couple of draft picks. Obviously, there was no way for the Bruins to predict he would’ve had the year he has had, but still, valuable draft picks that could’ve been held on to now no longer belong to the Bruins.
As for the Liles move, it is obviously beneficial because you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks the Bruins don’t need help at the blue line. The Bruins have showed signs of huge incompetence in that area at times this season, and by adding a veteran with offensive capabilities to join other veterans like Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, it will certainly add a little more stability to the defensive core.
But are adding Stempniak and Liles really going to be the difference that helps the Bruins get where they need to go? The Eastern Conference is pretty top heavy with obvious front-runners the Washington Capitals, whose enormous gap as the favorite in the East just got closed a little more by the obvious trade deadline winners, the New York Rangers. With the offensive weapons both of those teams have, combined with two of the best goaltenders in the league, I don’t see anyone else, especially the Bruins, getting past them in the playoffs.
The front office just can’t seem to make up their mind with what they want to do. You can’t both rebuild and try to add players to win now. It doesn’t make sense to give up draft picks for a half-committed run at a Stanley Cup. Rebuilding requires patience and takes years to happen. Although I personally believe the Bruins need to stick to rebuilding, I can also understand why they would want to win now with the fact Chara, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron aren’t getting any younger. With that being said, it has to be one or the other, it can’t be both. That is why I am giving the Bruins trade deadline grade a very generous C.