BOSTON – The Stanley Cup championship his team captured last June didn't turn Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli into a complacent introvert as this season's trade deadline approached.
"I probably made, in the last three or four days, I probably made the most phone calls to other GMs than I've ever made in that period of time or the time leading up to the deadline," Chiarelli said Monday during a TD Garden press conference to discuss his two trades.
SOG: 27 | +/-: -1
In the bigger of his two deals, Chiarelli shipped Steven Kampfer, a second-year pro who contributed to Boston during the regular season in 2010-11, to Minnesota for 31-year-old veteran Greg Zanon. In Chiarelli's other move, he acquired forward Brian Rolston and defenseman Mike Mottau from the New York Islanders for defenseman Marc Cantin and forward Yannick Riendeau.
All in all, Chiarelli summed up his day, and the time leading up to the trade deadline, as "frustrating but fulfilling."
"I've never really seen this type of inactivity. ... It was real heavy slugging and I can understand why other teams want to keep players. The number of buyers was, to me, far exceeded the number of sellers," said Chiarelli.
Of the three players Boston acquired, Zanon projects as the one that will make the biggest impact. Although he missed 16 games earlier this season with a groin injury, Zanon was durable enough to miss just one game over the prior three regular seasons. In 39 games for the Wild this season, he posted 2-4-6 totals and a minus-1 rating. His injury slowed his pace this year, but he’s been a fixture among the top four in the NHL in blocked shots for several seasons.
In some ways, Zanon is the fish that got away and has now finally been captured for Chiarelli.
"Interesting we had drafted him when I was in Ottawa. We ended up not signing him and he went on to sign with Nashville and then embarked on his career," said Chiarelli, who was the Senators' assistant GM prior to joining Boston. "So I've seen a lot of him. I saw him when he was at Nebraska-Omaha, saw him of course when he was in Ottawa with some of the development camps and I've followed him ever since."
Zanon has now skated in more than 400 NHL games.
"I mean, I hadn't ever really thought about it at the time when they kind of let me walk," Zanon said. "It was more of trying to find a place to play and the worries of it's going to be a different road to get into the League. You know, I just come every day and try to be the best I can with what I've got and I just try to push myself. But, you know, it really didn't. It was just another avenue, just another kink in the road that you have to go through to get to the League."
Mottau just recently returned from a 26-game absence due to a concussion. A native of Avon, Mass., and a star at Boston College prior to starting his pro career, Mottau will fulfill a childhood dream when he joins the Bruins. Mottau and Zanon's presence will give the Bruins eight available NHL defensemen when everyone is healthy.
Chiarelli knows it's important to stockpile depth on defense because even though his team lost just three man-games to injury on defense during last year's run to the Cup championship, year in and year out other clubs – including Western Conference champion Vancouver last year – have had to deal with multiple injuries on the back end.
"I guess globally, I've seen in my time in hockey, defensemen can drop like flies," said Chiarelli. "You can never have enough defensemen."
Rolston returns to the Bruins for a second stint after he wore black and gold from 2000-2004. Chiarelli likes the 39-year-old's shot and mobility despite Rolston's struggles this season, as he has just 4 goals and 5 assists and a minus-12 rating in 49 games played. He can play all three forward positions and aid on special teams.
Well in advance of last year's trade deadline, Chiarelli swung deals for Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Tomas Kaberle. Those trades paid off with the end of the 39-year championship drought. This year's moves were different in scope and in their goal, but might turn out to be just as important.
"Every deadline is different as far as feel, needs. So, it felt different," said Chiarelli. "Last year, I think we needed to improve a couple of areas, our depth and the two-way play, and our puck moving. This year was, again, I guess this year is depth. But you talk to every team and they always want to improve their depth. In a playoff run, guys go down, and that's just what happens."