Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has been adamant the past several weeks in holding on to his coveted No. 2 pick in Friday’s draft. Still, he may not be done dealing.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon, Chiarelli fielded questions about Tuesday’s trade for Florida’s Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell and the market going forward. When asked to assess the back lines in terms of puck movement, now that Dennis Wideman has been shipped to Florida, Chiarelli suggested that another move could be coming.
“I may not be done fixing the defense, first and foremost,” Chiarelli said. “The last two years, we’ve had tremendous goals against due to the goalies, great defensive play, obviously you have to include the defensemen in that. We have a real good system installed. This search of a puck-mover, sometimes there just isn’t one out there, there isn’t one perfect fit.
“So if we do add something, it may not be purely what you’d characterize as a puck-mover, but would certainly add to that element. Our guys are well-coached, and they’re harder to find, but if we can’t find the perfect one I think we’ll be fine.”
That statement, coupled with the recent salary-cap increase, could lend itself open to the widely-circulating trade rumors that have picked up steam, including the ones involving Marc Savard. Given an opportunity to shut down the Savard rumors, Chiarelli promptly responded, “I don’t comment on trade speculations, you know that.”
Chiarelli also said he hasn’t ruled out trading up for another spot in the top 10, but “it’s not a pressing urgency” at this time.
As for his new pieces, Chiarelli praised Horton’s physicality on the puck and accurate shot, while defending some of the criticism about his character and attitude.
“There seems to be a thread out there saying he’s a neutral character guy,” Chiarelli said of the 6-foot-2, 230-pound forward. “From what I know, from what our research shows, our due diligence shows, he’s a good person. He competes. He’s a big-bodied kid, he can shoot, he can skate. He’s only 25 years old. He’s what we’re looking for.”
As for the decision to give up his natural first-round pick, Chiarelli said that the depth of this year’s draft was all the more encouraging to go forward with the Horton trade.
“Looking at our list closely…there’s a batch we can get,” he said. “I think we have a shot at at least one or two. That was part of it. It’s always hard when you move an asset like that, but we want to try and improve the team now, and we had the opportunity for us to get what I consider a premium forward.”
Chiarelli also addressed his current talks with the team’s unrestricted free agents. Steve Begin has been told the club can’t make any decision on him before July 1, and Mirsolav Satan hasn’t been told “anything yet”. Chiarelli said he has reached out to the agents of Mark Recchi and Johnny Boychuk.
And by the way, repeated public affirmations haven’t stopped the phone from ringing about that No. 2 pick.
“There’s a lot of teams that want to help us out right now,” Chiarelli laughed. “If I do something with [Oilers GM] Steve [Tambellini], I’d imagine he’d keep the first pick and I keep the second pick. A few years ago, I was trying to get a high pick, and I bugged a lot of GMs and got emphatic nos. I’d imagine they’ll be doing the same to me.”