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Bruins Add Connolly, Talbot at Trade Deadline

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BostonBruins.com - The 2015 trade deadline has come and gone, and as is customary, General Manager Peter Chiarelli held his annual post-deadline press conference at TD Garden on Monday evening.

"Going into this deadline, we identified some needs, obviously," Chiarelli told the reporters gathered, a couple of hours after the deadline had passed. "We’ve tried to address these needs. A couple of injuries that have happened maybe put us in a different direction."

A few weeks ago, the Bruins lost defenseman Kevan Miller for the season after he re-injured his right shoulder and required surgery. David Krejci sustained a partially torn MCL in his left knee and is out four to six weeks.

The Black and Gold started deadline day by acquiring forward Brett Connolly from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the early hours of the morning, in exchange for the Bruins' natural second round draft pick in 2015 and the Bruins' natural second round draft pick in 2016.

By the deadline, they had acquired forwards Maxime Talbot and Paul Carey from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Jordan Caron and the Bruins' sixth round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. In a depth deal, Boston acquired forward Zack Phillips from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Jared Knight to wrap up the day.

Boston also explored adding defensive depth.

"And notwithstanding some injuries, specifically on defense, the exercise that we went through was the depth defensemen that we looked to add: Do they equate to the depth players that we signed in the first place? And we made a conscious effort this year to see if that was the case," said Chiarelli, later noting blueliners like Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman and David Warsofsky who have all shown their progress on the back end. "We had chances to add a lot — a number of different depth defensemen, and in the end, we didn’t"

"So as an aside, that was our rationale, but we ended up acquiring a couple of good additions, in my mind."

Up front, the right-shot right winger Connolly will slot into the lineup, bringing a shoot-first mentality. At just 22 and in his fourth year pro, he was drafted sixth overall by the Lightning in 2010, and has top-six upside.

"A former high draft pick and still is quite a young player. For a number of reasons, he was available — mainly the excess supply of right wingers in Tampa," said Chiarelli. "I had been talking to Steve Yzerman for the summer and most of the year on him, and his play is really starting to pick up."

"He was a slow starter since his draft, but his play is starting to pick up. He’s a big kid, he’s about 195, 6’2”, has a very good wrist shot, very good release, good hockey mind, starting to learn the nuances of the game, and we believe that there’s a very good upside with this player."

"If you look at all his goals, he’s a shooter. I think he’s a shooter first. He’s a net-front guy - he’ll go and get goals at the top of the blue. He’s a rangy guy. He makes plays but he’s a shoot first guy. I really like his release and he’s young and he’s growing."

He's a restricted free agent at season's end. The Bruins went the route to have a player in the future fold, rather than an impending unrestricted free agent rental.

"This last season, leading up to today, has been tough as far as getting a trade done, getting any sort of transaction done," said Chiarelli. "It’s hard for a number of reasons. For us, we’re obviously under a cap crunch, but it’s just hard to get a deal done, and you see that the prices are so high that it makes it prohibitive — and that’s really why we ended up going towards Connolly rather than a rental."

"We looked across, throughout, the forward rental market. He’s a young guy, he’s going to be with our group for a while, we will control his rights, and he’s going to grow into a good player, and he can help us now. So looking to the future, but also to the present, and that’s necessitated by the prices, and what we looked at is if we’re going to spend the picks that we spend, let’s look at all options, not just rental options."

"There’s a future for him here," the GM stressed. "We’ve done rental players and they’ve worked and some haven’t. The fact that you’re adding to bolster your group is a positive thing and we felt this is the right way."

With Talbot, the Bruins add a veteran presence with plenty of playoff experience. The Avalanche retained half of Talbot's salary as part of the deal that sent Caron to Colorado. Talbot's current contract goes through 2015-16.

"I talked to Max earlier today, and he’s excited to come here," said Chiarelli. "I would characterize him as a glue guy who has played in a lot of playoffs, plays all three positions, is a gritty guy, plays all-out, and we believe he’s a good add to our forward group."

Young players like David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner and Brian Ferlin have carved themselves spots in Boston for the time being, with Krejci and Campbell sidelined. Talbot may not slot into the lineup right away, but he'll be there.

"We want to see how these young players develop and how they play and so far I’ve liked what I’ve seen," said Chiarelli. "Doesn’t mean we’re going to hang our hat on any of those three young players and it doesn’t mean that they wont get bumped out on occasion. Doesn’t mean that they wont be down [to Providence] and back up."

"So its kind of a work in progress the forward group so to answer your question, we expect him to be in the lineup at some point," he said of Talbot. "He’s a glue guy, he plays any position, left wing, center and right wing."

Moving forward, the 2014-15 Bruins are in place and pushing for a playoff spot.

"They’ve been through a lot of adversity. I think the young players have grown and will still make mistakes but have grown and will continue to grow. I think we’re a good team," said Chiarelli.

"We’ve tried to improve the team; we feel we’ve improved the team, and we hope for a good run coming up."

"I feel that we have a team that will make the playoffs, and if you can get in, when you get in, anything goes," the GM later added.

Defensive Depth

There were defensemen available at the trade deadline. The Bruins explored those options.

"There were some contingencies attached [to the deals] that I didn’t like on some of the D, and really — in fact, getting Connolly opened it up a little bit, from that perspective," said Chiarelli. "But when you look at what Joe Morrow’s done for us, when you look at what David Warsofsky’s done for us, when you look at what Zach Trotman’s done for us, and even Chris Breen — he hasn’t been up, but we signed these guys for depth."

"We tell them, 'You guys are depth guys.' We didn’t sign Joe for depth, but when you sign back, they want a chance. So part of it is owing to them, part of it is doing that exercise that I mentioned to you about — looking at the cluster at kind of six, seven, eight defensemen, then comparing it to what we have. So that was the rationale behind that."

"We discussed it and looked at it, and felt that we owed it to our group — not just the existing group, but the group beneath them. Listen, if I could fill every need, I would. It’s no surprise, or no revelation, that our D — by losing [Johnny] Boychuk and by losing [Kevan] Miller — our D is not the same as what it was. But having said that, it gives these other guys an opportunity to play, and we felt that that’s the direction we should go in."

"As a manager, it’s a comfort level to have that core of surplus D, I’ll be honest with you, that’s how it feels and it’s instinctive to try and say, ‘I got to get a D, I got to get a D, I got to get a D’ but this year, we’ve tried younger guys up front, we’ve used younger guys on the back end…we’ve got them for depth, so let’s use them for depth."

Not Going the Rental Route

Boston was in on the Antoine Vermette deal, and they were in on other deals, and they didn't want to pull trigger.

"It seems every year — notwithstanding that they say that the draft is a really strong draft, and I’ve been out there, and it is a really strong draft — it seems every year that what you used to be able to get with a fifth-round pick is now a second-round pick," said Chiarelli. "I’ve talked about a number of reasons why, but I don’t know exactly why that’s happened. At some point, maybe that turns into a late first-round pick. The second-round pick now may be a late first-round pick. We’ve seen those thrown around pretty freely."

Most importantly, the Bruins didn't want to part with a first-round pick.

"It’s important to have the players that are going to fill in going forward, and that’s a real template, general template, in this hockey economy. And that’s what you’re trying to uphold and maintain," he said.

Like most teams, the Black and Gold were under pressure to add at the deadline, with an up-and-down season and a playoff spot on the line.

"We’re all under pressures — every one of us, whether it’s managers, journalists, for scoops and stuff like that — we all face certain pressures in our life. You’re a professional, and you do what’s best for the organization, and that was the case here," said Chiarelli. "But certainly, the perception is that we’re under the gun, but this is my ninth year here, and we talked to other managers, and if they want to gouge you, you just don’t do it."

Cunningham Claimed Off Waivers

The Bruins had to place forward Craig Cunningham on waivers as part of a potential trade. He was claimed by the Arizona Coyotes.

"We looked at other deals; we lost Craig Cunningham on waivers today. We put him on for the reason that we were in on a couple of other deals, and our tightness to the cap necessitated putting him down or putting him in a deal or putting him on waivers, notwithstanding," said Chiarelli. "So, unfortunate to lose Craig; he was a good depth guy for us here, but he’s going to have an opportunity to play in Arizona for the remainder of the year, so that’s good for him."

"That’s what we decided, as a group [to place him on waivers]. It’s tough, but that’s what we decided as a group."

Campbell "Very Close" to Return

On the injury front, Chiarelli said that Campbell is "very close" to a return from his upper-body injury that was expected to keep him out for at least a week.

The Bruins were set to practice on Tuesday morning at Ristuccia Arena, and do not play again until Thursday night at TD Garden, when they host the Calgary Flames.

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