This time last year the Boston Bruins traded first round pick Mark Stuart and free agent refugee from the Phoenix Coyotes Blake Wheeler (@BiggieFunke) to the then Atlanta Thrashers and now Winnipeg Jets for Boris Valabik and Rich Peverley. What I thought of the trade at the time is pretty well known. But its a year later, the Boston Bruins have hoisted the Cup, Rich Peverley played a key role in that and has since been rewarded with a new contract.

Let’s take a look at the players one at a time:

Mark Stuart:

  • Had a multiseason ironman streak as a member of the Boston Bruins.
  • leads the Jets in shorthanded time
  • has well over 100 each hits and blocked shots (154,141) both higher than any Bruins player
  • got his first career shorthanded goal this season

Blake Wheeler:

  • his 96 hits are more than any Bruins forward except Lucic
  • leads his team in scoring
  • only Bergeron has more points among the Bruins
  • with 12 has more powerplay points than any Bruins player except Chara

Rich Peverley (currently injured):

  • 9 goals 29 assists 38 points in 49 games
  • gets almost 4 minutes of special teams time a night
  • 4th among Bruins forwards in time on ice per game
  • 8th in scoring on the Bruins

Boris Valabik:

  • Has not played in NHL since trade.

On paper, and in the stat sheets it is hard to argue the now-Jets won this trade. Both teams got what they wanted from the trade, but if you need to declare one a winner it’s not really that close. Apparently I’m not alone in thinking that.

We all know the NHL’s on ice officials frequently make questionable calls and some that are just plain wrong. This is to a certain extent excusable. The guys in stripes and skates have maybe a second and usually much less to decide if something warrants time in the box or a removal from the game, and only their own vision to rely on. While no one likes it, it’s hard to come up with a better solution that doesn’t turn the game into a football like parody of free flowing action.

The gentlemen in suits and ties on the other hand have no such excuse. Off ice officials get it wrong at least as often, and with far less excuse. The people responsible for the long term direction of the of the NHL, who’s choices and attitudes trickle down into minor, college and high school hockey have set one standard and followed it for years. As a player you are either on the gold list of promoted and protected players, or its open season on your career and wallet.

One of the most notable examples of this is:

That’s clearly a third man in. The NHL rulebook has a segment on that:

46.16 Third Man In – A game misconduct penalty, at the discretion of the Referee, shall be imposed on any player who is the first to intervene (third man in) in an altercation already in progress except when a match penalty is being imposed in the original altercation. This penalty is in addition to any other penalties incurred in the same incident.

This rule also applies to subsequent players who elect to intervene in the same or other altercations during the same stoppage of play.

I’m sure it will surprise everyone to note Crosby’s record remains free of suspensions.

At some point in history the league office decided that off ice, non criminal behavior that euphemised a theoretical intimate relationship between two consenting adults was offensive enough to warrant an indefinite suspension. Here’s that now famous clip:

If we’re going to assume that what was merely implied in that video was somehow worse than striking someone in a manner clearly prohibited by the leagues rules and good sportsmanship than I suppose you can make the case that James Wizniewski’s suspension for the following act of pantomime is objectionable.

While I suppose if one is low minded they can infer the obscene content in this, one could also view it as reminder to Avery that he might need to brush his teeth, or perhaps it was an offer of a post game popsicle.

But of on or off ice implied and euphemistic obscenity is suspend-able, where is the review of Ryan Miller’s blatant vulgarity? He clearly and in front of the international media states he stuck around after a game in which he put up a poor performance, was pulled, and was arguably outplayed by his back up (again) specifically to call another player an expletive. Hours had passed between the incident he’s referencing and his speaking to the media. Unlike Wisniewski’s gesture, this was not done in the heat of the moment. It was done with malice aforethought and clearly warrants at least the same level of discipline.

But fear not Sabre’s fans, the NHL will protect it’s stars even when their teammates won’t. If will show that it’s marketing budget is far more important than it’s moral bottom line. The NHL will one more time overlook one of it’s premier players crossing a line it created and do so without even batting an eyelash, or making even the slightest comment. It knows what it is doing, and clearly some players are more equal than others.

The Providence Bruins have been eliminated from post season play before they even get there for the second time in a row, the question of who’s going to join the big club for the second season. A look at Boston’s needs is probably the best way to eliminate players as despite their performance as a team, several players could make great accessories to an already strong team.

The Bruins powerplay is its most notable weakness, and with all respect to Trent Whitfield, I don’t think he’s the guy to juice an NHL powerplay in the post season. His shot just isn’t NHL level. The two players behind him are Jordan Caron, and Jamie Arniel. Each player had five powerplay goals in Providence this year. Arniel has already hit the twenty goal mark with several games to play and leads the team in goals, points and shots on goal while having a sordid -14. Caron who spent a score of games in Boston had an up and down season, but was also a big part of the penalty kill while in Boston. Either or both could be called up, possibly before the season ends if Thornton’s injury keeps him off the ice for a time.

Depth at defense has been a buzzword since the advent of the Chiarelli administration, I suspect that with Shane Hnidy signed any defenseman brought up will be lucking to get shifts in practice much less games without a multiple major injuries. Yury Alexandrov and Matt Bartkowski each have five goals thus far. While Bartkowski has been called up more than once already this year and this is Alexandrov’s first season in North America, but is a great skater with high end passing ability.

Other guys who could see time in the post season are Zach Hamill who will looked good in Boston (when not playing with Wheeler) and showed a bit more grit than many expected. Max Suave, who had an injury shortened season but who possesses a wicked shot has a solid chance of making it to the big dance.  Suave is also a slick skater who despite a spring ankle surgery managed to stay well into the regular camp this year, he’s among the few Providence Bruins with a positive +/- at +4, and had a four powerplay goals.

Long shots that would say interesting things, but essentially require serious injury to key Boston players include the recent acquired Boris Valabik, newly minted pro Ryan Button (@Buttsy78), and Colby Cohen who was picked up in exchange for Matt Hunwick in something that rhymes with “calorie sump”. Forwards are led by Jeremy Reich, the aforementioned Trent Whitfield, and the under the radar Kirk MacDonald who is currently third in scoring and fourth in goals.

Today the Boston Bruins traded about six weeks of an expiring contract for two first round picks (one past, one future), and an additional conditional pick.  One of those first round picks was used to pick Joe Colborne, billed as “Jumbo Joe”, he has a similar although not as polished skill set as Joe Thornton. The other first rounder could be anyone, the only thing we know about them today is that whoever that pick is, they will be strengthening a division rival. Admittedly, as far as the Maple Leafs have to climb, it could take a while before they can threaten to take the division title.

In a separate trade, Blake Wheeler, the under performing former first round pick but undeniably talented forward picked up as a free agent, and first round draft pick Mark Stuart were sent to hockey exile in Atlanta where they will play in front of AHL sized crowds. In return Atlanta dumps a failed defenseman in Boris Valabik who’s sole claim to fame is having fought to and lost to countryman Zdeno Chara, and their forward with the second worst +/1 on the team, Rich Peverly.

So in exchange for four first round level picks today, the toughness and leadership of Stuart,  the Bruins get back a puck moving defenseman who’s goal scoring has dropped steadily for years in Thomas Kaberle with no guarantee he will be here past July 1st, an undrafted forward that doesn’t appear to know anything about the defensive zone, who is yet another center, and a guy who couldn’t stay on the Atlanta blueline when they were among the worst defensive teams in the entire NHL. They also got to strengthen a division rival, and remove two top penalty killers.

This is a colossal role of the dice, in the unlikely-in-the-extreme event I’m wrong, and Chiarelli and Neely are right I’ll be overjoyed at the Stanley Cup parade. As it stands now, that’s unlikely and I suspect more than a handful of general managers around the league are laughing out-loud over these trades.