The trade deadline has come and gone, and the B’s ended up making two moves: they acquired Mike Mottau and Brian Rolston from the New York Islanders in exchange for Yannick Riendau and Marc Cantin, and also acquired Greg Zanon from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Steven Kampfer.
The B’s basically filled two holes with these deals: they got two more solid, if unspectacular, defensemen, and got a secondary (tertiary?) scorer.
They didn’t make a big splash (Dustin Brown, etc.), nor did they blow up the roster for a major piece (Rick Nash). In fact, aside from Kampfer, they didn’t even move anyone who has ever put on the spoked B during an NHL game. Basically, they filled a couple of holes (Zanon and Mottau) and got a “hope” player (Rolston) for two low/mid-level prospects and an underachieving defenseman who, as Peter Chiarelli put it earlier today, seems to have lost his swagger.
The moves mean a couple of things to me:
–Chiarelli is confident in this group. There were certainly deals out there. If he wanted to, Chiarelli could’ve mortgaged the future and sent Tuukka Rask and Dougie Hamilton to Columbus for Nash. To be honest, had the B’s not won it all last year, I suspect Chiarelli would’ve seriously considered such a shake-up. However, this group is, aside from Joe Corvo and Benoit Pouliot, essentially the exact same team that hoisted Stanley in Vancouver in June. And despite their recent struggles, Chiarelli proved today that he thinks this group needs a tinker or two, or a gentle nudge, not an overhaul.
–Help may be on the way The lack of a bigger scorer or a more prominent defenseman tells me something else: Chiarelli must feel like Johnny Boychuk and Corvo will be fine after absorbing big hits on Saturday. He also must believe that Nathan Horton is progressing in his recovery, and that Rich Peverley will return in time for the end of the season. The returns of Horton and Peverley will give the B’s a far bigger boost than anything they could’ve gotten today. The absence of Horton sent the first line into a funk, but also had a ripple effect all the way down to the third line; when Peverley went down, the ripple turned into a minor earthquake. The return of those two will leave the B’s with their full line-up plus the reinforcements, something that must make Chiarelli and Claude Julien happy.
As far as the new Bruins go:
–Mike Mottau Mottau won the Hobey Baker award during his career at BC, is a local guy, and said today that he used to tell people he’d take a puck to the mouth to pay for the B’s. Now he’s got his chance. I’m actually pretty excited about this move, as I think Mottau has a lot of upside (steady and dependable, with a bit of puck-moving prowess) at minimal cost. Mottau is coming off of a fairly recent concussion, something the B’s know all too much about. However, Mottau seems thrilled to be in Boston, and players always perform better when they’re happy.
–Brian Rolston If the Bruins had made this deal in the offseason, I would’ve been furious. Why? Rolston makes north of $5 million per season, which would’ve made him one of the highest-paid players on the team. No thanks. Now, however? I think he’s a great depth pick-up, and someone who could end up surprising people. The 16-year-old in me is thrilled, as I remember Rolston from his role on the early-2000’s B’s clubs, teams that were talented but horribly disappointing. I remember Rolston having a rocket of a slapshot and being terrific on the penalty kill. I assume the shot has lost some heat, and, with his 39-year-old legs, I doubt he’ll be killing penalties, but Rolston is basically a less successful (no offense) Mark Recchi: he’s a veteran who has won before, and who, with an expiring contract, may be staring retirement in the face. He’s now got a chance to contribute, and to help get the B’s further than he could seven or eight years ago.
– Greg Zanon Zanon’s the player I know the least about. From what I’ve read, he’s a dependable, if unremarkable, stay-at-home defenseman. I’ve looked him up on YouTube, of course, and he seems to relish playing a physical game as well. Zanon isn’t anything close to the puck mover the B’s probably needed, but he’ll certainly help be a calming presence on the blue line.
So now what?
I see Zanon and Mottau making a bigger immediate impact than Rolston. On the blue line, the B’s now have Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Adam McQuaid, Joe Corvo, Zanon, and Mottau. These two not only provide depth in case of injury, but they also give Julien the power of the “healthy scratch threat,” a motivational tool that shouldn’t be underestimated. If they’re both in the line-up, the B’s could sit Corvo, ending what has been a failed experiment. I expect both Zanon and Mottau (barring a concussion setback) to make an impact on the blueline, and to possible send Corvo to the press box.
I’m not sure what the B’s will do with Rolston, and I think his impact will only be felt as long as the B’s aren’t at full strength. I don’t see Rolston pushing Benoit Pouliot out of the line-up once Peverley and Horton return. I know Pouliot has been wildly inconsistent (hey, just like the guy he replaced!), but he’s bigger, stronger, and has younger legs than Rolston. He’s not a speed demon, but he is faster than Rolston, and linemates-to-be Peverley and Chris Kelly are two of the speedier Bruins. Adding Rolston to that line would be like putting an anchor on two speed boats, unless I’m drastically overstating the rate at which age has caught up to Rolston. The way I see it, Rolston will fill a spot on the third (and heck, maybe even first) line until either Peverley or Horton return; after that, he’ll fill a spot in case of injury and will serve as the same kind of motivational tool as Zanon and Mottau, a sort of “hey, there’s a guy in the press box who could replace me, I better wake up.”
All in all, I think PC and Co. did a terrific job today. They didn’t make a huge move, but the B’s honestly didn’t need one: they needed help on the blue line and additional scoring. They certainly got the extra bodies on the blue line, and if they can get a timely goal or two out of Rolston, that’ll be all the scoring they need.
Here’s how I see the lines shaking out, at least until Peverley or Horton returns:
Chiarelli did a good job today resisting the urge to make a drastic change, and instead doing some tinkering that should really help his team. A job well done, PC. Now let’s see what kind of impact Zanon, Mottau, and Rolston can make.