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Boston Bruins: 10 Best Moves Under GM Peter Chiarelli's Reign

Chris BlanchardContributor IIINovember 1, 2012

Boston Bruins: 10 Best Moves Under GM Peter Chiarelli's Reign

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    Peter Chiarelli was named general manager of the Boston Bruins on May 26 2006, and he immediately took major steps to rebuild the franchise. Five years and 20 days later, he hoisted the Stanley Cup over his head. 

    For the past six years, Peter Chiarelli has done a masterful job of crafting a sustainable championship-caliber team in Boston. 

    After missing the playoffs in his first season, Chiarelli's team has reached the post-season five straight times, winning three Northeast Division crowns. 

    Lets take a look back at the best moves of the Peter Chiarelli era. 

10. Signing Marc Savard

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    Boston Signs: Marc Savard

    Contract: Four Years, $20 Million

    Date: July 1, 2006

    Just over a month into his tenure as Bruins GM, Peter Chiarelli made an enormous free agent splash by signing Marc Savard.

    The star center was coming off of a career year, in which he posted 97 points with the Atlanta Thrashers. 

    Following a 29-win season that cost GM Mike O'Connell his job, the Bruins needed to rebuild in a hurry. The team was still reeling from the botched Joe Thornton trade, which left the franchise without a face.

    Chiarelli acted quickly to bring in two major stars in Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara

    Savard was an immediate hit in Boston. He became the team's primary playmaker from the get go and collected 96 points in his first season. Over his first three years in Boston, Savard posted 262 points in 238 games.

    His consistent excellence put the Bruins back on the right track. In 2008 and 2009, Savard was named an All-Star and led the Bruins into the playoffs. 

    This signing could have been even more fruitful for Peter Chiarelli had Savard's career not been derailed by concussions.

    On March 7, 2010, Savard took a hit to the head from Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke. Since that incident, a series of setbacks have limited Savard to just 66 games. Savard did not play at all last season, and no comeback is expected in the foreseeable future, according to prohockeytalk.com

    Regardless of the injury issues, Marc Savard was among Boston's best players in his first three seasons, and he allowed the Bruins to take major steps toward their eventual championship in 2011. 

9. Trading for Johnny Boychuk

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    Boston receives: Johnny Boychuk

    Colorado receives: Matt Hendricks

    Date: June 24, 2008

    In the summer before the 2008-09 season, Peter Chiarelli made a minor trade that flew completely under the radar.

    The Bruins acquired defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who at the time had only played four career games in the NHL

    In exchange for Boychuk, the Bruins sent prospect Matt Hendricks to Colorado. Four years later it is clear that the Bruins won the deal. 

    Boychuk spent nearly his entire first year as a Bruin playing in Providence, making just one NHL appearance. Two years later, he was an everyday player for the Stanley Cup Champions. 

    Over the past two seasons, Boychuk has been a rock solid top-four defenseman. He was especially good in the 2011 postseason, when he nearly matched his regular season point total with 12 points in 25 games. 

    Last season was Boychuk's best yet, as he finished eighth in the league in plus/minus with a plus-27 rating. Only Zdeno Chara and Dan Hamhuis had better ratings among defensemen. 

    Matt Hendricks, on the other hand, played just 60 games for the Avalanche, mustering a grand total of just 16 points. Hendricks later earned steady NHL work with the Washington Capitals, but has only contributed 34 points over two seasons in DC. 

    With his monster slapshot, Johnny Boychuk has become a fan favorite in Boston and has solidified the teams tremendous defensive corps. Though the Boychuk trade may not have been flashy, it was nonetheless effective. 

8. Trading for Mark Recchi

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    Boston receives:

    • Mark Recchi 
    • 2010 Second Round Draft Pick (later traded to Florida)

    Tampa Bay receives:

    • Matt Lashoff
    • Martins Karsums

    Date: March 4, 2009

    In the spring of 2009, the Boston Bruins made a deadline deal to add some experience to their lineup in the form of Mark Recchi.

    Recchi was a fading superstar who had earned two Stanley Cup rings. He would later add a third with Boston.

    At the time of the trade, Recchi had compiled 1,426 points, with 535 goals over 20 NHL seasons.

    The grizzled veteran quickly became a leader in the Bruins locker room and added a surprising amount of offense for a player with two decades of experience.

    Recchi's contribution was most clear in the 2011 playoffs. He put up seven crucial points in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks, before retiring on the ice after hoisting the cup for the third time. 

    The 2010 second round draft pick received by the Bruins was later dealt to the Florida Panthers as part of the deal that brought Dennis Seidenberg to Boston.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning, on the other hand, were practically robbed in this deal. Matt Lashoff played 17 career games for the Lightning before being traded to Toronto. Since the trade, Lashoff has spent most of his time in the AHL.

    Meanwhile, Martins Karsums played just 18 games for Tampa Bay before leaving for Russia's KHL. 

    Recchi's time in Boston was short, and his numbers were small, but his leadership and clutch play were critical to Boston's 2011 championship.

    Tampa Bay, who lost the seven-game Eastern Conference Finals to Recchi's Bruins, must wonder if keeping the future hall-of-famer  could have changed their fate. 

7. Trading for Chris Kelly

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    Boston receives: Chris Kelly

    Ottawa receives: 2011 second round draft pick (Shane Prince)

    Date: February 15, 2011

    In 2011, Chris Kelly was acquired mid-season to reinforce the Bruins forward depth, and he did just that. 

    Although Kelly struggled upon coming to Boston, with only five points in 24 games, he turned a corner in the postseason. In 25 playoff games, he added 13 points en route to a championship. 

    Kelly's value became even more apparent last season. He responded to being named an alternate captain with the best season of his career. 

    He reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time and set a career high with 39 points. 

    Kelly's superb two-way play also earned him a plus-33 rating, which tied him for third in the NHL with teammate Zdeno Chara. Kelly's plus/minus rating is unprecedented for a third-liner. 

    For the past year and a half, the dependable Kelly has given the Bruins one of the deepest roster's in the league. The 31-year-old is likely to make a major contribution to the Bruins for a number of years. 

    The second round pick dealt to Ottawa was used to select winger Shane Prince

    The 19-year-old Prince is coming off a tremendous season in the Ontario Hockey League. Playing with the Ottawa 67's, Prince finished fourth in the OHL with 90 points. 

    Prince could join the Senators this season, barring an extended lockout, and the talented winger has the potential to make fans question this deal. 

    However, even if Shane Prince becomes the better player, Chris Kelly gave the Bruins exactly what they needed at the 2011 deadline. His leadership and consistent excellence, as Boston's third center, have helped the Bruins become consistent contenders. 

6. Trading for Dennis Seidenberg

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    Boston receives:

    • Dennis Seidenberg 
    • Matt Bartkowski

    Florida receives:

    • Byron Bitz
    • Craig Weller
    • 2010 second round draft pick (Alexander Petrovic)

    Date: March 3, 2010

    In the spring of 2010, Peter Chiarelli cut a deal with the Florida Panthers that unexpectedly landed the Bruins a shutdown defenseman. 

    Since the trade, Seidenberg has established himself as Zdeno Chara's partner on the Bruins' top pairing. The German defender has been superb in Boston, driving the team's defensive unit to elite status . 

    Seidenberg shined brightest on the 2011 Stanley Cup run when he posted a plus-12 rating with eleven points. Throughout the playoffs, Seidenberg was essential in limiting superstar scorers such as Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and the Sedin twins 

    While Seidenberg has excelled in his own zone, he has managed to contribute offensively. Over the past two seasons, Seidenberg has totaled 80 points. The 35-year-old also earned a career-high plus-15 rating in 2011-12. 

    Meanwhile Matt Bartkowski has looked good in Providence. The former Ohio State Buckeye has filled holes in the Boston lineup nine times over the past two years. 

    Bartkowski seems prepared for a larger role at the NHL level, but will struggle to find an opportunity on a deep Bruins team, barring injury. 

    Going the other way, Byron Bitz played only seven games for the Panthers. He missed the entire 2010-11 season due to injury before signing with the Vancouver Canucks. He played 10 games for the Canucks last season, but spent more time with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. 

    Craig Weller fared even worse. He never played a game for Florida and is now a member of the UK's Cardiff Devils of the EIHL. 

    The Panthers used the 2010 second round pick, originally acquired by Boston from Tampa Bay in the Mark Recchi deal, on defender Alex Petrovic. The 20-year-old Petrovic is a highly regarded prospect, currently playing for the Panthers minor-league affiliate San Antonio Rampage.

    Regardless of Petrovic's development, Seidenberg's value to the Bruins has been priceless. 

5. Drafting Milan Lucic

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    Boston Selects: Milan Lucic

    Draft Pick: Second round, 50th overall, 2006

    Peter Chiarelli laid the foundation for Boston's success at the 2006 NHL Draft, his first as Bruins GM. By the end of the weekend, he had acquired Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask. All three were steals in their own way. 

    With the 50th overall pick, the Bruins selected Milan Lucic, a physical winger from the WHL's Vancouver Giants.

    Lucic was expected to return to the WHL for seasoning, but shockingly was named to the Bruins squad out of camp as an 18-year-old rookie.

    Lucic's smashmouth style made him an instant fan favorite, but his offensive development made him a household name well beyond Beantown. 

    He was the Bruins' leading goal-scorer in 2010-11 with 30 goals, and he tied with David Krejci for the team points lead with 62. 

    A unique hybrid of pugilist and skill-player, Lucic is the modern incarnation of the Big Bad Bruin, and he has helped the team recover their distinct personality. 

    Despite his success, Lucic has been criticized for a lack of consistency, especially in the playoffs. The claims are undeniable, and they are the only reason this move does not rank higher. 

    Although he did make several clutch contributions to the 2011 Cup campaign, there were long stretches where Lucic seemed ordinary. In 2012, he was often completely invisible in the Bruins first-round series against the Washington Capitals. He failed to score a single goal, as his only points came on three assists. 

    Despite Lucic's imperfect resumé, he is only 24 years old and he has already compiled 212 points. That sort of prolific production from such a young player cannot be criticized. 

    Prior to the lockout, Peter Chiarelli inked Lucic to a three-year contract extension worth $18 million that is set to keep the bruising winger in Boston for the foreseeable future. 

4. Drafting Brad Marchand

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    Boston Selects: Brad Marchand

    Draft Pick: Third Round, 71st overall, 2006

    21 picks after taking Milan Lucic, Peter Chiarelli found an unlikely star in Brad Marchand. Six years later, Marchand has been one of the Draft's biggest steals. 

    When the Bruins selected the Moncton Wildcats forward, they had no idea he would be a Bruins legend in just a few short years. 

    Marchand took a much longer path to stardom than Milan Lucic. After being drafted, he spent two more years in the QMJHL before another two years in Providence. 

    In 2009-10, Marchand did little in the way of foreshadowing his future success, with just one point in 20 NHL games. 

    The following year, Marchand stunned Bruins fans with his breakout rookie campaign. He scored 21 goals and added 20 assists for a total of 41 points.

    His regular season was impressive, but Marchand reached another level in the playoffs with 19 points in 25 games. He had seven points in the Stanley Cup Finals, including two goals in Game 7. After just one season, Marchand's heroism built him a lasting legacy in Boston. 

    His sophomore campaign showed growth throughout his game. Marchand finished second on the team, behind only Tyler Seguin, with 28 goals. 

    He has also built a reputation as one of the NHL's premier agitators. Marchand brings a rare energy to the game and has proven he can get under any team's skin. 

    Last season, Claude Julien placed Marchand on his top line with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin. The well-balanced and spectacularly talented trio has become one the best lines in the NHL. 

    If Brad Marchand continues to mature and improve offensively, he could come to be considered as one of the Bruins' greatest draft picks of all time. 

3. Trading for Tuukka Rask

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    Boston receives: Tuukka Rask

    Toronto receives: Andrew Raycroft

    Date: June 24, 2006 - NHL Draft

    In addition to several key selections that yielded Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, Peter Chiarelli made one major trade at the 2006 NHL Draft. The Boston Bruins swapped goalies with the Toronto Maple Leafs, acquiring current starter Tuukka Rask. 

    Rask had been a first-round pick for the Leafs, taken 21st overall the previous year. At the time, Rask was starring for Ilves in his home country of Finland, where he would spend one more season after the trade. 

    Toronto believed Justin Pogge was a rising star, and that they no longer needed Rask's services. They have undoubtedly regretted the move ever since, as Rask could have ended their constant goaltending problems. 

    After three seasons spent between Finland and Providence, Rask made a superb impression in his rookie year with Boston. In 2009-10, Rask stole the starting job from Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas. 

    He went on to lead the league in goals against average and save percentage, although he started only 45 games. As a first year NHL player, Rask was already an elite goaltender. 

    Unfortunately for Rask, Tim Thomas stormed back in 2010-11 with a superb Vezina-winning campaign that gave the Bruins the Stanley Cup. Thomas earned the majority of the starts last season as well. 

    However, Rask continued to look excellent in 52 starts over the two-year period. Now that Thomas has walked away from the game, Rask will finally be the unquestioned starter. 

    Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, Andrew Raycroft did not pan out nearly as well. Raycroft won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2003-04 with the Bruins, but has failed to replicate that success. 

    Following the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Raycroft failed to maintain his starting job. His save percentage fell from .926 as a rookie to .879 in 2005-06. The Bruins sold high and made out like bandits. 

    Raycroft struggled over two seasons in Toronto before having his contract bought out. He has since become a journeyman goaltender who has seen action for Colorado, Vancouver and Dallas. He spent most of last season in the AHL. 

    This was the first of two key trades between the Bruins and Maple Leafs that drastically changed the fortunes of both teams. 

2. Signing Zdeno Chara

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    Boston Signs: Zdeno Chara

    Contract: Five years, $37.5 million

    Date: July 1, 2006

    On the first day of free agency in 2006, the Bruins brand new GM made an enormous splash by signing the biggest player on the market. On the same day that he signed star center Marc Savard, Chiarelli inked franchise defenseman Zdeno Chara. 

    The 6'9" Slovakian was immediately named team captain, and for the past six seasons Chara has been arguably the NHL's best defenseman. 

    He added an enormous frame and the world's hardest slapshot, clocked at 108.8 mph, to the Bruins blue line. His vocal leadership and intimidating physicality have been instrumental in resurrecting the franchise. 

    In six years with the Bruins, he has a cumulative plus-101 rating. He ranked third in the league in plus/minus last season and first in 2010-11. 

    For a shutdown defenseman, his point production has been tremendous. He has 284 points as a Bruin, averaging just over 47 points per season. 

    Chara has been named a finalist for the Norris Trophy, awarded the league's best defenseman, three times. He won the award in 2009. 

    Most notably, Chara captained the Bruins to their first championship in 39 years in 2011. He has unquestionably been the Bruins best skater of the Chiarelli era. 

    The six-time All-Star sets the tone in the locker room and on the ice. Someday, the sure-fire Hall of Famer will see his number 33 hang in the rafters of the TD Garden alongside Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr. 

    Even if his stats will never match Bruins legends like Bourque and Orr, his contribution to the franchise is absolutely comparable and will leave a lasting legacy

1. The Phil Kessel Trade

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    Boston Receives:

    • 2010 1st Round Pick (2nd overall - Tyler Seguin)
    • 2010 2nd Round Pick (32nd overall - Jared Knight)
    • 2011 1st Round Pick (9th overall - Dougie Hamilton)

    Toronto Receives: Phil Kessel

    Date: September 18, 2009

    In the fall of 2009, Peter Chiarelli made the trade that will likely define his career. He dealt Phil Kessel, the team's leading goal-scorer from the previous season, to division rival Toronto for three draft picks. 

    The following spring, the Bruins drafted Tyler Seguin second overall, and they picked up Jared Knight one round later. 

    Seguin was projected to become a franchise center, and although he has mostly played on the wing in Boston, he is quickly making good on his potential. 

    Although coach Claude Julien deployed the 18-year-old rookie cautiously in 2010-11, Seguin managed to contribute a handful of key goals in the playoffs. A four-point outburst in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay foreshadowed a bright future. 

    Last season, Seguin was handed an expanded role, and he responded by leading the team in both goals (29) and points (67). He also finished second in the league in plus/minus with a plus-34 rating, trailing only his linemate Patrice Bergeron. If Seguin's development stays on track, he is set to become a franchise player in the very near future. 

    Jared Knight was selected 30 picks after Seguin and has yet to debut in Boston. After four superb seasons with the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights, the hard-working winger has joined the Providence Bruins for 2012-13. Knight has plenty of upside and his debut in Boston does not seem far away. 

    The third draft pick became Dougie Hamilton, who was taken ninth overall in 2011. The big offensive defenseman has dominated for the OHL's Niagara Ice Dogs over the past few seasons. Last year, Hamilton compiled 72 points in just 50 games, which earned him the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the OHL's best defenseman. 

    If not for the lockout, Hamilton would likely be playing in Boston right now. He is a favorite for the Calder Trophy, whenever his rookie season begins, and he projects to be an elite first-pairing defenseman down the road. 

    For Toronto, Phil Kessel has developed surprisingly well. Last season he finished sixth in the league in both goals and points. Kessel is a star in every way, but Toronto paid far too much for the American winger. 

    The Bruins may have lost one of their best players, but in return they received three potential stars who should carry the team for the next decade or two.

    The deal has allowed the Bruins to position themselves for a decade of success in the wake of their 2011 championship. This trade is a superb example of Peter Chiarelli's ability to not only build a winning team but to maintain one. 

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