Chiarelli’s Day of Wheeling and Dealing

At first, it seemed like Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli might have given up a little bit too much when he sent Joe Colborne and two draft picks (Boston’s first in 2011 and a conditional pick in 2012) to acquire defenseman Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs. But in another move–one that was out of the blue–Chiarelli made up for it when the Bruins sent Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler to the Atlanta Thrashers for skilled forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik.

All in all, Chiarelli fared pretty well in his day of trading.

According to capgeek (via Twitter) by acquiring Peverley and Valabik after trading for Kaberle, the Bruins now have more than $5 million in salary cap space. With that cap space, the Bruins should have enough money to re-sign Kaberle to an extension, or Chiarelli and company could peruse the trade market again if they choose to go that route.

After being claimed by waivers last year by the Thrashers, Peverley has been a pleasent surprise since his arrival in Atlanta. In his stint with the Thrashers, the native of Kingston, Ontario registered 89 points (36 goals, 53 assists) in 141 games and had a career high 55 points (22 G, 33A) last season. As if Tuesday’s addition of Chris Kelly wasn’t enough, the Bruins added another quality center who is highly successful in the faceoff circle, winning over 55-percent of his draws in 2010-11.

Valabik, a former 10th overall pick of the Thrashers, will report directly to the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence. The 6-foot-7 defenseman has been spending time between Atlanta and the club’s AHL affiliate in Chicago this year and should provide depth for the Baby B’s.

The centerpiece of the deals, Kaberle, provides much needed power play depth on the blue-line. The 32-year-old Czech defenseman gathered 38 points (3 G, 35 A) in 58 games this year, 22 of which (all assists) have come on the power play. Kaberle will be in the lineup tonight when the Bruins travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators.

After a successful rookie campaign where he scored a career high 45 points (21 G, 24 A) and posted an astonishing plus-36, Wheeler’s stats dropped significantly the following season tallying 38 points (18 G, 20A) and was a minus-4 in the plus/minus category. His strong play recently (four points in five games), however, provided enough for GM’s to take a risk to acquire the soon to be restricted free agent. Wheeler was originally rumored to be part of the package for Kaberle, but obviously, that was not meant to be.

Originally rumored to be heading to Chicago to make room for Kaberle, Stuart will now be joining Wheeler as the newest members of the Thrashers. The Bruins’ first round pick in 2003 isn’t known for his offense–40 points in 283 games–but his defensive ability on the blue-line should not be overlooked.

The Bruins’ first round pick in 2008, Colborne, has spent the season in Providence and will report to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, but the former University of Denver standout has the potential to be a bona fide power forward in the league.

With the acquisition of Colborne, Leafs GM Brian Burke has (surprisingly) put his stock into the future during his busy week. Earlier in the week, Burke traded Kris Versteeg to the Flyers for a first and third round pick in this year’s draft. And let’s not forget, the Leafs fared pretty well in their deal with the Ducks back on February 9 that saw Burke acquire Joffery Lupul, defensive prospect Jake Gardiner and a conditional fourth round pick in 2013 from Anaheim for defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

By and large, the Leafs are certainly building on the future and the Thrashers are potentially in seller mode this year, especially given the uncertainty of the ownership’s desire to stay in Atlanta.

But by clearing cap space and building a legitimate contender in the East, Chiarelli has to be considered the big winner right now in all of this. If he doesn’t wind up re-signing Kaberle (an un-restricted free agent at the end of the year) however, then this could all go to waste if the Black and Gold has another disappointing early exit in the playoffs.

For now, however, it’s all about righting the ship and Chiarelli and company did a nice job in their day of wheeling and dealing.

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  1. Tweets that mention Chiarelli’s Day of Wheeling and Dealing | INSIDE HOCKEY -- Topsy.com - February 18, 2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Inside Hockey and Jeremy Scriven, Tim Rosenthal. Tim Rosenthal said: Read all about Chiarelli’s Day of Wheeling and Dealing in my latest for @insidehockey #Bruins http://t.co/C4PK81f [...]