With big names flying around on trade deadline day — seemingly half the goaltenders in the National Hockey League — the Bruins mostly stood pat. Because in the mind of general manager Peter Chiarelli, not much was needed.
He was happy with their offense, happy with their goaltending, and though he wanted to upgrade their defense, not much was available. So, in the end, he didn’t do much.
“I feel pretty good about our team,” Chiarelli said. “We’re first in the division — we can certainly get better, [but] this group has been through it before, so they know what to expect going forward.
“It’s about getting them ready, getting the proper mentality in place, getting the proper schemes in place and peaking at the right times. It’s the same thing, it’s a challenge peaking at the right time and we face that challenge again.”
To get to that place, the Bruins did make a pair of smaller moves. They traded a conditional third-round pick to Philadelphia for defenseman Andrej Meszaros. That acquisition barely made a splash in a 24-hour period that saw one captain traded for another (the Lightning’s Martin St. Louis for the Rangers’ Ryan Callahan), and names like Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, and Roberto Luongo dealt. And Boston’s pickup of blue liner Corey Potter off waivers from Edmonton was barely even a ripple.
“It never seems that we’re an anointed winner of trade deadline day, and I’m fine with that,” Chiarelli said.
Later, though, he did acknowledge some frustration at not being able to make a bigger deal, one that could have pushed the Bruins closer to a return engagement in the Stanley Cup Final.
“There were a few good deals we were in, and, yeah, a little disappointed,” Chiarelli said. “Sometimes those deals come around in the summer and the fall. You lay some groundwork for deals later on, too. We felt we did that.”
Regarding the deals he was able to make, Meszaros fits best with the Bruins’ primary needs, as a left-shot defenseman with the added benefit that he can play both sides. But he is far from guaranteed to unseat Matt Bartkowski on the second pairing.
“He’s heavy on the puck,” said Chiarelli. “He’s more apt to push the puck than defend, but he can defend and he’s heavy.”
To get Meszaros, the Bruins are on the hook for a 2014 third-round pick. But if the team makes it to the Eastern Conference finals and Meszaros plays in at least two-thirds of the playoff games, the pick becomes a 2014 second-rounder. Also, if the Bruins re-sign him before the draft, the pick becomes a second-rounder. If they re-sign him after the draft, the Bruins must add a 2015 fourth-round pick.
Meszaros is 6 feet 2 inches, 223 pounds, and has played in 38 games for the Flyers this season, averaging 17:22 of ice time, though he has been a healthy scratch at times. He has five goals and 12 assists, and brings a cap hit of $4 million.
Meszaros called coming to Boston “a great opportunity,” since playing in Philadelphia “wasn’t working out for me.’’
“It’s tough for any player who is not playing regularly,’’ he said. “We have eight defensemen over here and they were rotating us in and out of the lineup. It’s never fun. You always want to play every game, and I didn’t have the chance to do that here.”
The right-shot Potter, meanwhile, was described by Chiarelli as “more of a two-way defenseman” and “responsible defensively.” He will be used as depth, as the team has just six healthy NHL defensemen at the moment.
Meszaros is expected to arrive in Boston for Thursday’s game against the Capitals, though it will be left to coach Claude Julien as to whether he gets in the lineup.
“We acquired these two players for depth, and when I say for depth, I just want to be clear, it doesn’t mean that they’re just reserves,” Chiarelli said. “It means that I look at our defensive corps as a whole, and we’re just bolstering that corps. We’ve got a lot of games in a short period of time.
“That was our intention going into this trade deadline.”
So, with six weeks left in the season, the Bruins look much as they did heading into the trade deadline. There are two new faces — with no guarantees of how much playing time they’ll see — and not a single player shipped out of town.
“I liked our team even before today,” said Chris Kelly, who played with Meszaros in Ottawa. “We’ve got a good group. We have a group that’s seen it all and been through a lot together. But by adding one more player or two more players, I think that helps us in areas that maybe we need a little bit of help.”
Ultimately, there was a sense among the Bruins this week that they trust in what Chiarelli is able to do and in what he chooses not to do. They have seen him build a team that has gone to the Cup Final twice in three seasons, and has won a Cup.
“Successful teams are not built at the trade deadline,” Gregory Campbell said. “They’re built beforehand. They’re put together, and it takes years and years of drafting, of signing different players, of putting the right players together. It’s really a complicated formula.
“I’m glad it’s not my job, but the guys that do it here have been very successful at doing it. So they obviously have a blueprint in mind, and they’ve done a great job for a while. They know what works and it’s been working for us now.
“I’m a big fan of what we have here and the character that we have in our dressing room and I know that we’re a good team and we’re going to be a team that has a great opportunity.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.