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Jillson swapped for depth

Boyes, Delmore newest additions

NASHVILLE -- When the Bruins dealt disgruntled defenseman Kyle McLaren and a 2004 fourth-round draft pick to San Jose for goalie Jeff Hackett and defenseman Jeff Jillson nearly 14 months ago, the club felt the Rhode Island-born Jillson could be a key cog in their blue line corps for years to come.

His stay turned out to be a lot shorter than he thought. General manager Mike O'Connell participated in a three-way swap prior to the NHL trade deadline yesterday, sending Jillson to San Jose for center Brad Boyes. The Sharks then dealt Jillson and a ninth-round pick in the 2005 draft to Buffalo for center Curtis Brown and defenseman Andy Delmore. San Jose then traded Delmore to Boston for future considerations.

O'Connell said the Bruins weren't disappointed in Jillson's play; they simply were offered a player they coveted. Boyes is a former first-round pick, taken No. 24 overall by Toronto in 2000.

"When there was an interest for Jillson, we weren't actively trading him, but when Boyes was presented to us, we thought we should move on it," said O'Connell. "We said we'd do it but we had to get another defenseman back.

"When someone asks you if you'd trade a certain player, you say, `Yeah, well maybe if you give us this.' And they did. Our strength in the organization is on defense and we felt we had a chance to acquire a [forward] who is going to be a successful top-two-line player."

Boyes, who turns 22 April 17, was assigned to Providence of the American Hockey League.

"Our scouts feel very strongly about this young man," said O'Connell. "They feel he's going to have an excellent future."

Jillson played in 50 of the Bruins' first 69 games. When they acquired Jiri Slegr from Vancouver, Jillson was affected the most. After Slegr joined the lineup Jan. 19 against the Rangers, Jillson was a healthy scratch for 18 of 23 contests.

It appears it won't be easy for the 27-year-old Delmore to earn ice time if the Bruins' blue liners remain healthy. He is more of an insurance policy.

"He's a good offensive player but he's a good NHL defenseman," said O'Connell. "We felt we needed to add another guy. We do believe in the young players we have but we don't want to rush them, and if we do have injuries, we'll have another adequate defenseman back there who knows the league and knows what it takes."

Delmore remained in Buffalo and will join the Bruins there for tomorrow's morning skate.

"I'm a little nervous but I'm excited," said Delmore. "There are a lot of emotions going through my body right now. But it's all positive."

Delmore started his career in Philadelphia, signing as an undrafted free agent June 9, 1997. His first three seasons were split between the Flyers and Philadelphia's minor league affiliate. His first full season in the NHL was 2000-01. He was traded to Nashville for a 2002 third-round draft pick (Joe Callahan) July 31, 2001.

He scored 34 goals over two seasons with the Predators, second among defensemen in that span only to new Bruin Sergei Gonchar (44). He led NHL blue liners in power-play goals in 2001-02 (11) and 2002-03 (14). Last year, he tied Gonchar and Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom for the league lead in goals by a defenseman with a career-high 18.

He was dealt to Buffalo for a 2004 third-round pick June 27, 2003. He had one assist in 19 contests before suffering a groin strain. He was assigned to Rochester (AHL) for conditioning Jan. 3 and played eight games before being recalled Jan. 25. He had two goals and four assists in 17 games since his recall.

Delmore, who said his groin injury is almost completely healed, said the fit in Buffalo just wasn't right.

"Things didn't work out the way they wanted or I wanted," said Delmore. "It was a mutual thing."

Known as an offensive defenseman, Delmore said he's better in his own end than he used to be.

"Definitely my defense has improved this year," he said. "It's something I have strived to do."

Now all he has to do is transfer his equipment at the HSBC Arena to the visitors' room.

"That's going to be strange," he said. "I'm more happy than anything else."

Bruins defenseman Dan McGillis played with Delmore in Philadelphia.

"He's a good defenseman that brings an offensive touch to the game," said McGillis.

"Obviously trading Jilly, he was a good prospect for us and a good player who was kind of just in the shadows a little bit the last bunch of games because of moves and other guys being healthy. It's tough losing him but at the same time they had to get a defenseman back."

With the deadline behind, the Bruins' lineup is set. Asked if he likes his roster, O'Connell smiled. "It looks pretty good," he said. "So, let's let them do it."

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