NHL people are like people anywhere: when they find something that works they generally stick with it. It’s not uncommon to see new general managers or coaches reach back to their old organizations for talent; they know the players, know what they can do and it only makes sense to grab a known quantity rather than roll the dice on a newcomer.
We know from his time in Boston that Peter Chiarelli isn’t an exception to the rule. So which Bruins might be both a) plausibly available and b) a good fit for Edmonton?
The Ottawa Connection
Prior to joining the Bruins, Chiarelli spent nearly a decade with the Ottawa Senators. During his time in Boston, he frequently reached back to players he knew from his old team, sometimes with spectacular results:
- Zdeno Chara. Chara established himself as one of the handful of elite defencemen in hockey with Boston, after the Senators unwisely prioritized Wade Redden ahead of him. He was a key ingredient for the Bruins for the entirety of Chiarelli’s tenure.
- Chris Kelly. This one took a few years, but the Ottawa drafted-and-developed Kelly was eventually dealt to Boston and played some very good hockey for them, particularly during the 2011 Cup run.
- Andrej Meszaros. Meszaros bounced around the league for a while between his time in Ottawa and Boston, but the Bruins acquired him at last year’s trade deadline as a rental piece.
- Peter Schaefer. Schaefer had a disappointing tenure in Boston, eventually getting demoted to the minors and retiring not long after.
One player who didn’t spend time with Chiarelli in Boston, but who would be familiar to the new G.M. from Ottawa is Antoine Vermette, who is an unrestricted free agent of some note in this summer’s class.
Boston: Of Interest
The obvious name on the Bruins’ roster is Dougie Hamilton, a brilliant young defenceman and pending restricted free agent. He’s come up several times in the comments section at this site, and for good reason. However, I’m not going to spend much time on him because I can’t imagine that Boston would be stupid enough not to re-sign him. They have cap limitations, but locking down the heir apparent to the No. 1 D job is the kind of thing that even cap-strapped teams generally manage.
More plausible options are as follow:
- Carl Soderberg. He’s a logical candidate if Chiarelli wants to bolster the forward corps. The 29-year-old pending free agent brings size (6’3”, 216 pounds) and a range of skill and can play centre or left wing. He’d be a nice piece of insurance up front, or potentially a replacement for a player dealt for help on defence.
- Milan Lucic. Lucic is still a year away from free agency, but his name crops up frequently in trade rumours (and has for a while now) and he’s been a coveted player in the Edmonton market for a long time. He has limitations, but he’s still reasonably young (he’ll turn 27 in the summer) and would add an element to the team’s skill lines that is often lacking.
- Malcolm Subban. He’s a top goalie prospect on a team with a long-term incumbent, and Edmonton’s system isn’t exactly overflowing with gems. The emergence of Laurent Brossoit as a legitimate AHL starter, combined with the need for an immediate fix at the NHL level makes this deal problematic in some ways.
- Adam McQuaid. A big defenceman with some puck-moving limitations, McQuaid is a pending free agent and might appeal in a No. 6/7 capacity.
- Gregory Campbell, Dan Paille and Matt Bartkowski. These are the other pending free agents on the team. All have warts that make them problematic for Edmonton, but all might be plausible fits in limited roles.
Edmonton’s greatest weaknesses (defence and goaltending) don’t really seem solvable from players that Boston is likely to make available, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Oilers turned to an ex-Bruin for help up front if that position is deemed to need immediate fixing. Or, for that matter, if players up front are cashed in via trade for help on the back end.
RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS
- Peter Chiarelli isn’t afraid to deal young players
- Free agent succession planning
- What will the arrival of Connor McDavid do to the Oilers’ forward lines?
- Report: Oilers have reached out to Todd McLellan
- Bob Nicholson: It’s all about what he didn’t say
- The first day of the rest of your life
- Showing Craig MacTavish’s work
- Follow Jonathan Willis on Twitter