Bruins fill needs with trades for Recchi and Montador
|03.04.09 at 9:15 pm ET|
The Bruins straggled into the NHL trade deadline with two very easily definable needs (a depth defenseman and a left-handed shot capable of taking shifts on the first power play unit) and they emerge from the other side of Rumor-O-Rama with a pair of gritty, dependable veterans armed with Cup-loads of playoff experience.
It wasn’t the home run ”Wow” acquisition like Anaheim’s Chris Pronger or St. Louis winger Keith Tkachuk might have been, but the arrival of the other Anaheim D-man, Steve Montador, and Tampa Bay Lightning winger Mark Recchi supplies the Bruins with exactly what they longed for.
“(Recchi and Montador)” were on our lists, and our lists weren’t that long,” said Chiarelli.
“I like our depth, I really do,” added Chiarelli. “And I expect our players to respond because they’re really going to have to compete for ice time. I think that’s healthy.”
Instead the Bruins gave up virtually nothing from their current core group of players to fill team needs, and shipped off minor leaguers Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums along with roughneck fourth liner Petteri Nokelainen for a valuable 2010 second round pick and two needed rental players.
Both players really weren’t linked with the team at all in previous trade rumors, which tells you one of two things: either the Bruins settled for players that weren’t all that expensive on the open market or Chiarelli and co. did a pretty solid job of keeping their desired targets under the radar.
I’m betting it’s much more of the latter than the former.
Montador is a big, beefy defenseman that can play a capable offensive game, but that’s not his biggest strength. The former Flames, Panthers and Ducks defenseman is also a veteran that’s been through the playoff wars, and is willing to both drop the gloves and play the sandpaper game that Chiarelli requires and Claude Julien covets.
He’s also a player that’s hopped back and forth between forward and defenseman over his career, and can provide the kind of in-a-pinch versatility that rookie Matt Hunwick has given the Bruins for much of this season – with a really noticeable contribution up front during Milan Lucic’s recent injury.
“Montador is a good story,” said Chiarelli. “He was signed as a free agent out of juniors and he has really worked his way into the NHL. First and foremost he’s gritty and he’s a thick kid — about 6-foot-2 and 210 (pounds) and that’s pretty thick for a kid that size. He’s got a good stick. He’s a versatile guy and I really like his compete level.
“He’ll do anything to win, and he’s a battler and a warrior,” added Chiarelli, using the kind of complimentary terms that hockey people don’t exactly throw around like candy.
The 29-year-old defenseman had an idea he was going to be dealt when the Ducks didn’t approach him with a contract extension during his season’s walk year, and he said that he’s been filled in on plenty of Bruins stories from his agent, former Bruins player and coach Steve Kasper. Montador will serve as insurance in case any member of the blueline corps suffers an injury during the final months of the season, but should easily fit into the reincarnation of the Big, Bad Bruins that’s ticketed for the playoffs.
“I like to keep things simple for the most part,” said Montador. “I like to play a simple game with quick first passes and I like to bring a lot of energy. I certainly don’t consider myself a fighter, but when something needs to be done then I’ll certainly (drop the gloves). I certainly don’t like taking fists to the head, but if I have to mix it up, I’ll do that.”
Recchi, on the other hand, brings a steady, veteran hand capable of giving Boston more offensive oomph on the power play — and potentially still a dangerous wing man on Boston’s third line. Recchi has 45 overall points — which places him fourth on the Bruins behind only Marc Savard, Phil Kessel and David Krejci — and 19 big points on the power play this season (2 goals and 17 assists).
Along with the production at an age when most hockey players are already working on their handicap, Recchi brings a boatload of NHL experience through a run to the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06 and 19 seasons of pounding in pro hockey.
Upon hearing about the trade this morning, Recchi’s first reaction was a desire “to bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston.” Exactly what the long-suffering members of Bruins Nation would like to hear after seeing the team plateau a bit over the last three weeks.
“The experience factor was big and that went a long way in our decision-making process,” said Chiarelli. “He’ played in the league a long time, he’s a very resilient player and he’s a thick-bodied man too. He’s a durable player and you need that in this stretch and the playoffs, and then you look at the Stanley Cup experience which is invaluable.”
Recchi has already played the rental player roles with the ’Canes in 2005-06 and again last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the grizzled vet understands what it means to enter the flow of another team mid-stream and assimilate quickly.
He’ll likely relegate impressive rookie Byron Bitz to the press box at the beginning of his stint in Boston, but Recchi’s arrival will also give Julien the ability to use a quick hook when a particular forward isn’t giving 100 percent. Recchi will also bump P.J. Axelsson from the first PP unit — a development that probably had the biggest impact in the mind of Bruins’ executives.
“I’m looking forward to being a piece of the puzzle to make this team successful,” said Recchi. “I want to try to add some leadership and some of that ability that (Boston) already has. I don’t have any illusions that I’m going to go in there and change anything there. Wherever they want to play me: left wing, right wing, power play, penalty kill. Whatever they want me to do to help them win games, I’m going to do.
“I’m going to have a job to do and I’m going to go out there and do it well,” added Recchi.