Bruins look to move up
Chiarelli trying to improve position
MONTREAL - Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, maintaining that he still has his eye on a couple of players in tonight’s draft, remained keen yesterday on moving up in the first round for a chance to land one of them.
“I’ve got three teams I’m talking with,’’ said Chiarelli. “These are three teams that are willing to move down.’’
The Bruins currently hold the No. 25 pick. Chiarelli, while unwilling to specify what teams he talked to, said the proposed moves were in the range that could improve Boston’s draft spot by upward of 10 picks.
The clubs in that neighborhood include Anaheim (15), Columbus (16), St. Louis (17), Montreal (18), and the Rangers (19).
The Bruins have often talked trade with the Blues, the biggest swap sending Brad Boyes to St. Louis and Dennis Wideman to the Bruins. A lesser move had Hannu Toivonen going to St. Louis for the rights to Carl Soderberg. The sides were close to a deal at the March 4 trade deadline, a swap that would have sent Phil Kessel to the Blues for veteran forward Keith Tkachuk and high-end prospect David Perron, who just finished his second year in the league.
No telling for certain what Chiarelli would have to yield to better his spot, but clubs across the board are looking for legit roster players, with lower salaries, who can fill roles and not bust their budgets. Two Bruins who fit that description are defenseman Aaron Ward (one year to go at $2.5 million) and winger Chuck Kobasew (two more years at a $2.33 million cap hit). Defenseman Andrew Ference also fits the bill, but his cap hit ($1.4 million) is so low that it gives the Bruins little temptation to deal him.
Chiarelli would not be eager to part with any of the three, but a move would give him some needed cap relief, and the flip of first-round picks would increase his chance of landing his teenager of choice. He could be eyeing Chris Kreider, the left winger from Boxford who is about to enter Boston College this fall, or perhaps rugged winger Zach Kassian of the Peterborough Petes. Kassian is likely to go right around No. 15. Kreider figures to go in the same area or a little lower.
When asked if he might make a blockbuster deal in the next day or two, Chiarelli said, “I doubt it.’’
With rumors swirling in recent weeks that Chiarelli might deal the unsigned Kessel, a restricted free agent, the GM said recently that he had received a lot of calls about virtually all of Boston’s forwards. He added that the calls have not increased of late, despite the draft typically being a time when activity picks up.
“I’d say it has been consistent, but not heightened,’’ he said. “I guess no one is looking to help me.’’
If not the Flyers, look for the Kings and Canucks to make a push for the 25-year-old smooth-skating blue liner.
Bouwmeester would look great in a Bruins uniform, his puck-moving skills a great complement to the Norris Trophy-winning Zdeno Chara. However, if he were to sign a long-term deal worth $6 million - his projected figure - it would force the Bruins to deal Wideman (three more years at $3.875 million cap hit).