Following a deflating 3-4 start to the season, the Boston Bruins  finally reacted to mediocrity on Sunday night and traded Chuck Kobasew  to the Minnesota Wild  for the rights to unsigned draft choice Alexander Fallstrom, forward Craig Weller and a 2011 second-round draft choice in a deal that also obviously loosens up room under the salary cap. Fallstrom began his freshman year at Harvard University this fall and Weller had played the first five games of this season for the AHL’s Houston Aeros.
Following the trade, the B’s placed Milan Lucic  on long term injured reserve with a broken right index finger, and recalled Guillaume Lefebvre, Brad Marchand  and Vladimir Sobotka from the Providence Bruins. Marchand had scored five goals in six games with the P-Bruins after impressing B’s officials during this fall’s abbreviated training camp.
The deal was clearly done largely with the salary cap in mind as the Bruins were forced to head out on a two-game road trip through Dallas and Phoenix with the bare minimum 20 players. Once Lucic was hurt against the Stars, the B’s were forced to call Lefebvre up as an emergency forward and fly him the same day to Phoenix for a Saturday night game.
Clearing Kobasew’s $2.3 million off the books allows Chiarelli plenty of cap room to bring up extra bodies from Providence, and also allows B’s coach Claude Julien  to introduce the bench to players that aren’t giving their full effort out on the ice. Kobasew had a single assist in seven games this season, and really hadn’t been much of a factor skating with Patrice Bergeron  and Mark Recchi .
There wasn’t much roster competition when the B’s couldn’t afford to carry any extra players on their active roster through the first handful of games, and now Julien has that tool in his coaching bag. A quick calculation of the money saved by trading Kobasew, placing Lucic on LTIR — for which he must sit for at least 10 games or nearly a month’s time — and calling up the minor leaguers: roughly $1.15 million.
The hockey swap also clears Kobasew’s $2.3 million off the books for next season when the team has a number of players looking for new deals including Marc Savard , Blake Wheeler , Mark Stuart  and Tuuka Rask. Minnesota’s second-round pick in 2011 adds to the bulging toy box of draft picks that Chiarelli and Co. have accumulated over the last two seasons, and gives Boston nine picks in the first two rounds over the next drafts.
The draft picks give Chiarelli an abundance of bargaining chips once big-time scorers become available around the trade deadline. Boston is clearly in the best position to wheel and deal at the deadline, and now has even more bargaining power with another pick. Those expecting another trade shoe to drop in the next few weeks may be disappointed, however, as it’s likely that this is more along the lines of preparation for the March 3 trade deadline.
NESN.com’s James Murphy originally reported that the Bruins were talking trade with the Minnesota Wild on a deal that centered around Kobasew. Chiarelli was unavailable for comment on Sunday night, but planned to meet with the media at the Bruins practice facility in Wilmington on Monday morning.