One of the consistencies of the Chiarelli regime in Boston has been him pulling off trades and free agent pickups that no one expects. With the exceptions of moving Kessel and the even more talked about, rumored, and agitated for Kaberle trade most of his acquisitions have been very under the radar. Adam Mcquaid, picked up for not much. Boychuk, Kelly, Peverley, Kampfer, no bank heists needed to fund these pickups either. Joe Corvo, one fourth round pick sent south, To varying degrees these trades have all either worked out well or at worst not been a detriment.
But if ask anyone if they expected Aaron Ward to be traded back to Carolina or Derek Morris to be either picked up or traded away less than a season later, most people would just say no. This year the major speculation revolves around the forward lines and who can and can’t be parted with. The consensus pick for who was being dangled as tradebait has been Zach Hamill, he of the fairly watery 2007 draft class. With all the players who ill hit free agency, and barring his most recent game Hamill’s solid performance this year highlighted by a glaring inability to look out of place on a Stanley Cup champion roster, its hard to leave the Everett Silvertip alumni along on that pedestal.
Another addition to the “we can probably get something useful for him” list has been former Rimouski Oceanic star Jordan Caron. He’s a big body, he’s defensively responsible, and he’s recently displayed some willingness to stick up for his teammates. Unfortunately he’s a touch lacking in confidence, and has not been able to stick in the lineup. A change of scenery where a team paid him the compliment of pursing him might all that’s needed to turn him into a regular top six contributor.
What has me questioning either Caron or Hamill as the most likely candidates for trade are some facts that come together neatly. First, Zach Hamill was (like half the forwards in the Bruins system) drafted at center but was shifted to wing. Second, in two recent appearances after time on both left and right wing, Hamill was slipped back to center. Third, a recent player poll that listed Chris Kelly as one of the most underrated players in the NHL. Fourth, Kelly being one of those pending UFA’s the team has to deal with. Fifth, Claude Julien putting Hamill at center between Peverley and Kelly in a recent game.
The last one may not seem like much, possibly just a nagging injury to Kelly, but Peverley has also played some center under Julien, with Hamill only having one or two games under his belt at pivot in the NHL it was shocking to many observers. Of the three Kelly could be a nice safe rental, Hamill is in the last year of his entry level contract, and Caron has another full season on his entry level deal to acclimatize to the system of anyone who picked him up.
Team management being who they are, I can’t imagine them going into the post season without finding a veteran depth defenseman somewhere as an insurance policy. Equally of note, the team does not possess a second round draft pick this year. This years draft class is replete with young men who can be expected to play a top three role in the NHL right thorough those first two rounds. Given how few players in the Bruins system project in that range, both a draft pick and some playoff insurance are likely weighing heavily on the minds of the Bruins brain trust.