BOSTON: After tearing through the NHL for two-and-a-half months with a level of dominance not seen in many years, the Bruins' march to the Presidents' Trophy has slowed of late. Boston is 4-4-1 since the middle of January, and that has included two losses to Carolina and one to Washington without its three best players.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on a trio of moves around this time last year, and the additions of Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly in particular were critical components of the team's run to the Stanley Cup. Given the recent form, it may increase the likelihood that Chiarelli will be busy again this month.
"The slump no doubt has added to general manager Peter Chiarelli's desire to add depth, both up front and along the back line," Kevin Paul Dupont writes in the Boston Globe. "He can do that, with a mix of draft picks and prospects, and still maintain the core group that won the Stanley Cup last June."
The Bruins have plenty of cap space to work with, and some intriguing prospects should the price warrant it. Chiarelli was willing to part with Joe Colborne last February, so it might not be out of the question for Jared Knight or Jordan Caron to be on the move. Boston probably isn't going to be looking for the level of player that it would take to include top prospect Dougie Hamilton in a deal – and other Cup contenders are probably hoping that is the case.
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Shinzawa lists a few of the options the Bruins may be looking at on defense, including ex-Bruin Hall Gill, Carolina's Bryan Allen, Tampa Bay's Brett Clark and Mike Mottau of the New York Islanders. Dupont also named Carolina's Jaroslav Spacek as a possibility.
When the Bruins are at full strength up front, they are a scary mix of skill and grit, but Nathan Horton's absence could move Chiarelli to look for a top-six type guy. Otherwise, he may just be looking to upgrade on Benoit Pouliot as a third-line option.
CHICAGO: It is no secret that Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wants to make an upgrade or two to his roster, and his desire to add a defenseman has been often reported of late. The team's current slide, a five-game skid including an embarrassing loss in Edmonton, hasn't helped matters.
Bowman has not been bashful about discussing his plans to add on the blue line, but it has been an unsuccessful pursuit to this point.
"I think anyone who says they're close to a trade is full of it at this point," Bowman told Tracey Myers of CSNChicago.com. "There's just nothing happening.
"I talked to some GMs today and said, ‘What are you hearing?' They said, ‘Nothing.' There's nothing going on other than teams looking to get players. Nobody's giving them up," Bowman said. "It's a big logjam at this point. Until teams fall more out of the race, we're not going to see anything happen."
Expect Bowman to be in on many of the same guys as Chiarelli. There will be plenty of other contenders looking to add on the blue line as well.
EDMONTON: There was a report Friday by Larry Brooks of the New York Post that Oilers forward Ryan Smyth would consider waiving his no-movement clause to join the Rangers. Smyth denied the report, saying he wants to stay in Alberta.
"I've moved four times in the last five years," Smyth said to John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal. "I think I wanted to come back here for a reason, didn't I?"
"No one has mentioned anything to me. Obviously, I've heard speculation, but I've never really been approached."
There are other Edmonton players who could be on the move, and chief among them are pending UFAs Ales Hemsky and Andy Sutton. Hemsky has had a disappointing season, but could rediscover his old form with a change of scenery.
MacKinnon writes that Edmonton will be looking for help on the blue line to go with all of the talented forwards.
"It's hardly a secret what the Oilers would want in return for key assets at the deadline," MacKinnon wrote. "They need to upgrade their back end in the short-to-medium term, primarily.
"Two or three years down the road, the Oilers have high hopes for the likes of junior prospects David Musil, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat. But next year, the expectation is that some, or all, of them will be playing for Edmonton's Oklahoma City farm team, not the Oilers."