After losing five of their last eight games leading up the trade deadline, the Boston Bruins found themselves under tremendous pressure to reinforce their roster.
Just one point out of first in the Northeast Division but quickly losing ground to the constantly improving Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli had plenty of needs to fill before the stretch run, and he responded with a handful of moves that could help the Bruins hoist the Stanley Cup once again.
The question remains whether or not the Bruins did enough to reestablish themselves as a Stanley Cup favorite. Deeply wounded by Jarome Iginla's last minute decision to join the Pittsburgh Penguins after Calgary GM Jay Feaster had seemingly promised him to Boston, the Bruins sought to address needs on both offense and defense.
The botched Iginla deal seemingly ended any realistic hope of finding a top-six forward to play alongside David Krejci, but in a surprising development the Dallas Stars opted to deal 41-year-old winger Jaromir Jagr.
Boston quickly snapped up the five-time Art Ross Trophy winner in exchange for highly expendable prospects Lane MacDermid and Cody Payne in addition to a conditional second round pick. The pick will become a first rounder if Boston reaches the Eastern Conference final, but even then it still looks like a spectacular value for Boston.
Many expected a potential Jagr deal would include top-prospect Alexander Khokhlachev, who was originally involved in the proposed Iginla deal. If Jagr keeps up his current pace, a scoring rate that made him Dallas' leader in both goals (14) and points (26) this deal could look like highway robbery.
With Jagr headed to Boston and no major assets on their way to Dallas, it looked as if Chiarelli had the ammunition to go after another high profile target, presumably an offensive defenseman like Dan Boyle or a gritty bottom-six forward like Ryane Clowe.
However, Chiarelli failed to reel in any more big fish, settling instead for the low risk acquisition of the once great Wade Redden, who cost nothing more than a conditional 7th round pick.
Redden should be a nice fit as a seventh defenseman who will see only occasional action, but the acquisition of a minute-eating power play specialist like Mark Streit or Keith Yandle would have done much more to augment Boston's Stanley Cup chances.
In the end, it seems as if the price was simply too high to go after a big time defenseman, so playing it safe with elite prospects might have been the right move. However, at the moment the Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have a decided advantage as the playoffs approach.
That is assuming that Sidney Crosby recovers from a Brooks Orpik slap shot that sent him to the hospital and cost him a few teeth. If Crosby is not prepared for the fast-approaching postseason Boston arguably now stands as the best of the rest, behind Dan Bylsma's star-studded club.
Jagr's arrival should allow the Bruins to move Nathan Horton or Milan Lucic to the third line, instantly improving the offensive ability of two struggling units. The power play could also finally see a major boost from Jagr's well known skills.
He will remind many of Mark Recchi, who won the Stanley Cup with him in Pittsburgh more than two decades ago. Recchi provided a veteran presence in the Boston locker-room on the way to his third Stanley Cup in 2011. The primary difference is that Jagr is still capable of providing much more than leadership, as he searches for his third championship.
Though he has certainly lost a step, not to mention his legendary mullet, the highest scoring European player of all time certainly has the fire power to improve the Bruins. He cannot single-handedly carry the team to a title, but he shouldn't have to.
If he chips in a few power play goals and helps to re-energize David Krejci and Milan Lucic while freeing up Nathan Horton to bolster the third line, then he will have his new team well on its way.
Though he may not make the Bruins the odds-on favorite to win the Cup, he should make a major contribution to a team that already had most of the pieces to challenge for a title.
Now we can only hope that Jagr has the opportunity to face off against Jarome Iginla and his old team in a postseason series for the ages.
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