If you’ve watched the 3 Bruins games since the Olympic Break, you know that the Bruins need to acquire a defenseman at the deadline. In my recap of the Rangers game, I said that they have “an elite #1 Dman (Chara), a good #3 (Boychuk), two ok #4 or good $5 defensemen at even strength (Hamilton and Bartkowski), a good #5 and great power play specialist (pretty obvious who I’m talking about), and two 2011 Shane Hnidys (McQuaid and Miller).” Seems like they really need to make a trade for a Top 4 defenseman who can play on at least one of the two special teams units, preferably the PK. When their GAA has gone from 1.95 pre-Seidenberg injury to 2.72 post-injury, you gotta make a trade.
Dan Girardi was never realistic for the B’s, as they wouldn’t resign him after the year and wouldn’t pay a ridiculous price for an overvalued rental. But there are a few other options. I’ve listed a few here, and let’s see how different this current list is from my original one when Seidenberg went down. As always, I have to thank extraskater.com, behindthenet.ca, and capgeek.com for their instrumental knowledge. According to capgeek, the B’s can take about $5.49 million in salary at the deadline, because all salaries will be prorated at this point.
1) Ron Hainsey, CAR
This is the guy I want, and I want him yesterday. Chiarelli has said that he wants 4 lefties and 4 righties on defense, and the Bruins have 3 lefties and 4 righties. (Note: I have no idea why Chiarelli cares that much over which way his seventh defenseman, let alone eighth defenseman, shoots. Left/right shots seem a little overrated to me, but I could understand him caring about them splitting the top 6 blueliners, but whatever way Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid, or David Warsofsky shoots should not matter at all. I don’t think the Bruins won the Cup in 2011 because Shane Hnidy was a righty.) Hainsey plays the third most minutes on the blue line for the Hurricanes, only falling behind Chara’s Slovakian Olympic defensive partner and US Olympian Justin Faulk. His 21:10 total TOI/G and 2:10 PK TOI/G would be really helpful to the B’s. The PK TOI/G stat isn’t overwhelming, and it wouldn’t completely make up for Seidenberg, but it’d still be really helpful.
Here’s the most impressive part of his resume that the Bruins need to look at: Hainsey starts in the offensive zone about 50% of the time, but his corsi for percentage is 52.5%, and his CFrel% is 2.0%. And he’s not being paired with Sekera or Faulk, either, but Brett Bellemore. His corsi relative quality of competition is .58, and he has always been over 0, which is essentially the cutoff point for whether or not he plays against above or below average competition, for his whole career.
Would the B’s be getting a top 2 defenseman? Would they be getting a direct Seidenberg replacement? Probably not, but they’d be getting a solid no. 3 man. Hainsey and Boychuk are not the same player, but they’re probably just as good as each other. Would you rather have another Johnny Boychuk in the lineup, or trot out a hobbled Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller as your 6th defenseman come playoff time? That’s what I thought.
The Hurricanes have lost their last 5, and they’re now in 13th place, 7 points back of the 8th seeded Red Wings. We can thank Ryan Miller’s final start in Buffalo for being a part of this streak, which is really helpful to the Bruins. Carolina should look to deal the 32-year-old before Wednesday, and the Bruins can easily fit his modest $2 million under the cap.
2) Chris Phillips, OTT
There were rumors that the B’s were interested in Phillps, and it’s easy to see why. Phillips is basically 90% of Hainsey, but he’s better at PK. He leads the Sens in PK TOI/G at 3:16, and even logs 1:44 PP TOI/G. The Bruins rely a ton on their 5 on 5 in the playoffs, so it might be nice to improve both their PK and PP at the same time.
At even strength, Phillips has a 50.8 CF% despite 47.2% OZS, which is pretty good, of course. His Corsi rel QoC is .257, which is lower than Hainsey’s, and I would rather have Hainsey playing top 4 minutes at even strength. But Phillips is a left shot, plays a ton of PK minutes, which could help alleviate the loss of Seidenberg, and makes just under $3.1 million, which would be no problem for Chiarelli. His play has decreased over the last two years, though, and I worry that his soon to be 36 years on this earth could be a problem if Claude wants him to lug huge minutes against a tough playoff team. Phillips would be a great consolation prize to not getting Hainsey, but I would just feel a little bit more safe with the Canes blueliner.
I’ve been surprised that the Senators are considering trading him, though, and it kind of worries me. Every day they say that they’re still gunning hard for the playoffs, but they’re apparently very open to trading their best penalty killing Dman. Um, ok. My guess: It’s a sign that the Bruins would have to pay too much to get him, and the Sens are trying to bleed the B’s for whatever they can. Yet another reason to go for Hainsey.
3) Tom Gilbert, FLA
Gilbert was right behind Hainsey when I made my first list, but then I saw him play against the B’s. He was horrible that game, but it’s just 1 game, which is why I’m going to be watching him religiously tomorrow night against the B’s. And I guarantee you Chiarelli will be doing the same team, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Gilbert was motivated to play the best game of his life tomorrow night in order to get the hell out of the Panthers organization.
Gilbert has a 53.0% CF% with 49.6% OZS, which is really damn good. Better than Phillips and Hainsey, but here’s the thing… Gilbert plays with Brian Campbell, who’s having a fantastic year. Would the Bruins be getting the rejuvenated guy who might have been a small part of Campbell’s resurgance, or would they be getting the guy that the Minnesota Wild had to buy out last year. He does have a .625 corsi rel QoC, though, which would bode well. But again, he’s playing with Campbell.
Gilbert barely plays on Florida’s penalty kill, and that’s freakin Florida. Pretty sure I could play on one of their special teams units. But he does play 2:12 per game on the power play and 21:05 per game, which is similar to Hainsey. Let’s compare the two. Hainsey is better by far on the PK, while Gilbert is better on the PP. Gilbert’s stats are slightly better at even strength, but there are two major questions with these stats that Hainsey’s don’t have — playing with Campbell and Gilbert’s play last year. With that, I think it’s pretty clear that Hainsey is the better player overall. Gilbert is a righty, which Chiarelli apparently doesn’t want, while Hainsey is the lefty he desires. That leaves three reasons that Chiarelli might choose Gilbert over Hainsey if he can get both:
A) He values the need at PP over the need at PK. I highly doubt this, because the B’s have no problem using Chara, Krug, and Hamilton as their man advantage blueliners, and sometimes they don’t even go that deep. Maybe Gilbert would be an upgrade over Hamilton, but the difference between the two probably won’t be the difference between winning the Cup or not.
B) Gilbert costs less in terms of cash. Gilbert makes only 900k, while Hainsey makes $2m. Theoretically, the B’s could get someone else and then Gilbert, while they might not if they took Hainsey. But who else are the Bruins looking at? I don’t think there’s too many spaces that Chiarelli is trying to fill besides this one on defense, so I don’t think this would be an issue.
C) Gilbert costs less in terms of trading compensation. Hainsey is a better player, and is perceived as such, and the Canes are closer to making the playoffs in future years than the Panthers. That might mean that he’d cost too much. Still, I doubt this would be a problem. Hainsey only joined the Canes this year, so I don’t think he’ s a huge part of their locker room culture or anything, and the Canes would be stupid to think they’re in the playoffs after their recent skid. (Root for San Jose late tomorrow night against the Canes!) Florida GM Dave Tallon is smart, so I guarantee you he wants to unload Gilbert for whatever he can get. Still, I don’t see the price being that much lower than Hainsey’s that Chiarelli has to do it. I’ll take Gilbert, but I’d rather take Hainsey or Phillips.
4) Marek Zidlicky, NJD
The Devils should unload everything to reboot for future years, because the average of their team is like 57. They should trade Brodeur if he wants to play beyond this year and stupidly thinks he’s still a great starting goalie, and they should trade all of their aging pieces like Zidlicky. Remember, they don’t have a first round pick this year because of the Ilya Kovalchuk contract punishment, and their supposedly “young” guys like Travis Zajac are not that young. (Zajac turns 29 in 2 months.) They’re also in 12th place in the conference, 3 points out of a playoff spot while having played 2 more games than the Red Wings. But I don’t think they’re gonna go into rebuilding mode. Just don’t sense it, based on what I’ve heard.
Despite 57.5% OZS, Zidlicky is only posting a 52.7% CF%. That’s below his standards, but, looking at last year, we can see why his standards were so high. His CF% was an awesome 57.6%. This year, he plays 21:37 per game with an even 3:00 on the PP. He plays on the PK for an NHL team about as often as I do, which isn’t huge for the Bruins. If the B’s were going to go for Zidlicky, I’d expect them to just try to get Gilbert for less, especially when Zidlicky is due $4 million this year. He would cost too much, you might have to convince the Devils to go into full tank mode, and it’s probably just not worth it. But wow, it would be a huge trade.
5) Stephane Robidas, DAL
I listed him last because there are just so many question marks. Dallas is a better team than its record indicates (7th in team CF%), and they’re the 8th seed in the packed West with 2 games in hand. They should not be sellers, and I don’t think they will be. Also, he’s still going to be injured for a few more weeks, and the Bruins will have played more than 70 games by the time he’s back. Risky to add in a guy coming off a huge leg fracture with about 10 games left to go in the season for a contender. I would stay away from him just because of all the question marks.
But damn, when he’s healthy, he’s really underrated. The past 3 years, his CF% has been 51.3%, 48.1%, and 51.1%, which are ok all together, but that’s despite starting in the offensive zone well under 50% the past 2 years (just 42.9% last year) and just over 52% this year. But the even better stat is that his corsi rel QoC the past 3 years have all been over 1.0, which means he’s facing really hard competition. Like, almost Chara level of competition for long stretches of time. He plays fewer than 20 minutes per game, but he does play over 2 per game on the PK. He would be a great fit for the Bruins, but IF he’s healthy and IF the Stars would sell him at a reasonable price. Big, big IFs.
Jaromir Jagr, NJD (Fine, he’s not a defenseman, but I don’t care.)
Yeah, that’s right. Like actually. Jagr is due $4 million, because he already hit his $2 million bonus by playing 45 games this season. With the Bruins having about $5.5 million in deadline space, that would leave enough room for them to get Gilbert and become maybe the best offensive team in the league! Yeah, sure, this is probably a pipe dream, especially because I just said that the Devils probably want to go for the playoffs. But Jagr is still playing out of his mind, as literally any stat will show you. Getting him might be the best value of anyone they could realistically get, because a 42-year-old wouldn’t cost that much. Put Eriksson at 2RW, Jagw at 3RW, Reilly at 3LW (remember, he played LW earlier in the year when Marchand sucked), Soderberg at 3C, and Kelly at 4RW or 4C with Paille and Campbell as his linemates. That gives you maybe the most well rounded and definitely the best defensive line in the league with the Bergeron line, an insane scoring line with Soderberg-Reilly-Jags, and an amazing defensive line with Campbell-Paille-Kelly. Then they can get Gilbert and really go for the throats of every other team in the league. I’m not kidding about this one, either.