The Bruins recognized Andrew MacDonald’s shortcomings.
MacDonald averaged 25:25 of ice time per game for the Islanders, far too much for a defenseman with his toolbox. The 6-foot-1-inch, 190-pound MacDonald does not play the thumping style of Dennis Seidenberg. MacDonald’s price was a 2014 first-round pick.
But MacDonald was the prize of a high-demand, low-supply, blue line rental market. MacDonald could have been a candidate for left-side duty on the No. 2 pairing. As such, the Bruins were interested.
MacDonald landed elsewhere.
The Flyers acquired the shift-eating left-shot defenseman from the Islanders Tuesday for a 2014 third-rounder, a 2015 second-round pick, and AHLer Matt Mangene, a three-year player at the University of Maine.
The Bruins declined to send the Islanders the first-rounder they wanted. But the Bruins did not receive an opportunity to improve upon Philadelphia’s package, according to a team source. It’s possible the Bruins could have sent the Islanders better assets than the ones they received from the Flyers.
The Bruins will continue to hunt for blue line help prior to Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline. MacDonald’s trade may shake loose a target. Andrej Meszaros could be out of Philadelphia’s picture because of MacDonald’s acquisition.
Meszaros was one of six Philadelphia defensemen in uniform for the Flyers’ 5-4 win over Washington on Sunday. The others were Kimmo Timonen, Mark Streit, Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossman, and Luke Schenn. Meszaros was paired mostly with Schenn. Erik Gustafsson and Hal Gill were the spare defensemen. The Flyers will not carry nine defensemen on their active roster.
Like MacDonald, Meszaros is a left-shot defenseman on an expiring contract. If the Flyers determine MacDonald is an upgrade over Meszaros, the Bruins would be interested.
Meszaros played on Zdeno Chara’s right side in Ottawa. Like Seidenberg, Meszaros is comfortable playing both sides. Meszaros earns $4 million annually, according to www.capgeek.com.
In 38 games this season, Meszaros has five goals and 12 assists while averaging 17:22 of ice time. The 6-foot-2-inch, 223-pound Meszaros is built similarly to Seidenberg. But Meszaros is not as physical as Seidenberg. League observers have also questioned his conditioning.
General manager Peter Chiarelli, formerly the assistant GM in Ottawa, has not been shy about setting his sights on former Senators. Chiarelli signed Chara and traded for Chris Kelly. Other ex-Senators who have passed through Boston under Chiarelli’s watch are Wade Redden, Joe Corvo, Brian McGrattan, Peter Schaefer, Patrick Eaves, and Brandon Bochenski.
The other target with Ottawa connections is Senators alternate captain Chris Phillips. The career Senator will be unrestricted after this season. According to the Ottawa Sun, Phillips and the organization are negotiating a possible extension before the deadline. It’s not known whether the 35-year-old Phillips will be available if an extension isn’t signed before 3 p.m.
Phillips has a goal and 12 assists in 51 games while averaging 19:46 of ice time. Phillips would be a good fit on the No. 2 pairing. The 6-3, 220-pound Phillips and Johnny Boychuk could combine to be a mean shutdown duo to complement the No. 1 pair of Chara and Dougie Hamilton.
Other candidates include Buffalo’s Henrik Tallinder and the Flames’ Chris Butler, who are both left shots. Tallinder, 35, has two goals and five assists in 47 games while averaging 19:06 of ice time. The 27-year-old Butler has two goals and 10 points in 61 games. Butler is averaging 19:44 of ice time. Buffalo and Calgary are sellers and would most likely seek picks or prospects for Tallinder and Butler.
The Bruins will have cap space to fold in any blue line acquisitions. They will use the long-term injury exception with Seidenberg. By using the exception, the Bruins can exceed the cap by all or part of Seidenberg’s $3.25 million annual salary.
The Bruins might also be in the market for a right-shot defenseman. The playoff availability of Adam McQuaid (groin/hip) is in question. McQuaid underwent testing last week to help determine the severity of his injury. The Bruins do not know how much regular-season time McQuaid will miss. The stay-at-homer hasn’t played since Jan. 19.
It’s unknown whether the Bruins were interested in Stephane Robidas. Dallas traded the 37-year-old to Anaheim Tuesday for a conditional 2014 fourth-round pick. The pick would become a third-rounder if Anaheim qualifies for the Western Conference final and the right-shot Robidas plays in half the playoff games. Robidas is currently rehabbing from a broken leg.
Robidas would have been a depth right-shot defenseman. Robidas is a battle-tested veteran who plays with bite. He would have given the Bruins another option on the right side. Claude Julien is familiar with Robidas, having coached in the QMJHL at the same time the defenseman played for Shawinigan.
The Bruins do not want to trade their 2014 first-round pick. They have all their 2014 selections save for their fourth-rounder, which they ceded to St. Louis last year for Redden. The prospect they could most afford to let go is David Warsofsky. The Marshfield native is a power-play specialist, a job that Torey Krug has on lockdown.
The Bruins have not eliminated making a deal for a player with term remaining beyond the season. However, they are wary of parting with a roster player.
“We like our team,” said the team source.
That team, however, is short on experience and depth on defense. Chara played more than 25 minutes in each of the back-to-back games against Washington and New York and another 25 minutes Tuesday against the Panthers. The Bruins need to pace Chara into the playoffs.
The Bruins will also have to arm themselves against a possible rematch with the Penguins. Last year, the Bruins deployed Chara and Seidenberg against Pittsburgh’s No. 2 line of Jarome Iginla, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal. Boychuk and Andrew Ference took on the task of shadowing Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and Pascal Dupuis.
This year, the Bruins don’t have that kind of matchup depth. Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski would have to assume the roles filled by Seidenberg and Ference. That’s not a safe way to enter the playoffs. They need some help.