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Bruins, Leafs reshape franchise futures with deals

by Corey Masisak
The Boston Bruins are ready to contend for the Stanley Cup and the Toronto Maple Leafs are ready to rebuild.

Boston made a pair of trades today to beef up the roster with the hope of claiming the Cup for the first time in three decades, while Toronto finally embraced reshaping the organization with youth and building for the future.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli identified two needs -- veteran help at center and a puck-moving, offensive-minded defenseman -- and filled both voids. He's added centers Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley in a four-day span, and finished his shopping spree by landing defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

Boston had lots of depth at center, but Marc Savard is out for the season with a concussion and rookie Tyler Seguin has been inconsistent. By adding Kelly and Peverley, coach Claude Julien has plenty of options in the middle and could have to move a couple of guys to the wing.

Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci should continue to center the top two lines, with Kelly or Peverley in the middle on the third line. Either Kelly, Peverley or Gregory Campbell will likely shift to the wing. Seguin will either move to the wing, or be sent back to the Ontario Hockey League.

Kaberle becomes Boston's leading scorer among defensemen, and should immediately slide onto the top power-play unit. Zdeno Chara should see a lot of passes from Kaberle, and goaltenders around the League should look forward to plenty of one-timers from Chara in the coming weeks.

If Philadelphia, Vancouver and Detroit were clearly the top three Cup contenders as of this morning, it might be time to add Boston and make the group a foursome.

Toronto general manager Brian Burke has retooled his franchise in the past two weeks, and the emphasis on prospects and draft picks is a new approach for a franchise that has been trying to compete and rebuild at the same time.

Burke has added a pair of prospects in center Joe Colborne and defenseman Jake Gardiner that are recent first-round picks. He's picked up two first-round choices and a third-rounder in the 2011 Entry Draft, and a second-round selection could be party of the Kaberle bounty if he re-signs with Boston or the Bruins make good on their push for a run to the Cup final.

The Maple Leafs now boast an intriguing collection of young talent -- something that has long been missing in Toronto. Luke Schenn, Keith Aulie and Gardiner could be the foundation for a solid defense corps, while Colborne and Nazem Kadri could eventually be Toronto's top two centers.

How the Peverley deal works in Atlanta should also be interesting to monitor. GM Rick Dudley was looking to shake up his roster with the Thrashers on the verge of falling behind both Carolina and Buffalo in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Peverley has been one of Atlanta's top two centers for much of the past two-plus seasons and a bargain at $1.325 million. He had been dropped to the fourth line recently. Both Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart played for coach Craig Ramsay when he was an assistant coach with the Bruins, and both should play key roles in trying to get Atlanta back into the postseason.
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