Kelly acquisition could be a prelude

Just a couple of hours after the Bruins fell 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli announced the team acquired forward Chris Kelly from the Ottawa Senators for a second-round draft pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

In 57 games with the Sens, Kelly recorded 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) and was a minus-12. In his career, the former third-round pick of the Sens (picked 94th overall in 1999) has a 176 points (75-101) in 462 career games. His best statistical season came during Ottawa’s run to the Stanley Cup in 2006-07 when he tallied 48 points (15-23) and was a plus-28.

While Kelly’s offensive statistics aren’t necessarily anything to write home about, he provides some much-needed help for the Bruins penalty-kill unit, which gave up two goals in Tuesday’s loss. His ability to win faceoffs should also benefit the Bruins in the long run.

“Chris is a guy that’s very good on faceoffs,” Chiarelli said during his press conference after Tuesday’s game. “He’s a good penalty-killer and he can play up and down the lines. He’s a good two-way player.”

Kelly also brings a positive presence on and off the ice.

“I just traded one of the most respected hockey players on this team,” said Senators GM Bryan Murray after the team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders Tuesday.

“These are difficult deals for someone like myself to make because Chris was such a good player and followed directions so well. To have to make the moves we are making are difficult, but it’s the way we have to go at this point in time.”

With the Senators struggling, it is no surprise that they had to trade away a presence like Kelly and hope for the future. And with the Bruins looking to make a playoff run, moves like this might not seem like something that would help make the Bruins a legitimate contender. Perhaps looking at this trade alone, one can argue that the Bruins gave up too much to acquire Kelly’s services.

But with the Bruins in desperate need of a puck-moving defenseman, Kelly’s trade should be considered just one small piece in a big picture. During the press conference, Chiarelli admitted that there are nine defensemen the team has “serious interest in,” and one of those defenseman who is probably high on their board is Tomas Kaberle of the Maple Leafs. Kaberle, who still has a no-trade clause in the last year of his current contract, had an assist in the third period in Toronto’s win and would fill the team’s need of a power-play specialist they desperately need.

Other valuable secondary options, in no particular order, could include Joni Pitkanen, Joe Corvo and Ian White of Carolina, Eric Brewer of St. Louis, Bryan McCabe of Florida, Zach Bogosian of Atlanta and Chris Phillips of Ottawa, just to name a few.

“I’ve been pretty public in saying that I’d like to get a defenseman, so that’s still in the works,” Chiarelli said. “I know there’s been a lot of furor here today, but I’ve had discussions on a number of fronts and I’d say a couple of them are closer. But I don’t have anything imminent.”

According to Cap Geek (via twitter), the Black and Gold still have $2.5 million in cap space courtesy of putting Marc Savard back on long-term injured reserve last week. But to acquire one of the defensemen, including the likes of Kaberle, they will have to give up some assets. It’s been rumored that Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart could be included in a package for Kaberle along with the Bruins’ first-round pick in this year’s draft, but obviously neither Chiarelli, nor Leafs GM Brian Burke have confirmed anything to the media at this time.

Right now Kaberle hasn’t submitted his list of teams where he would waive his no-trade clause for the remainder of the season. But in the past, Kaberle has put Boston on that list.

“This team was on the list last year,” he said. “There’s no list this year.”

If traded here, the veteran could see himself fitting quite well in Boston, even if it were just for a few months.

“Obviously they have a good team and some good goaltending,” he said. “I have a lot of against them and they are always tough to beat. We will see what is going to happen.”

The Bruins won’t be the only ones looking at a defenseman at this time. Considering that the Vancouver Canucks’ blue-line has been hit hard by the injury bug in recent weeks, one can expect them to be in the market for Kaberle or any of the defenseman listed above. And obviously they won’t be the only ones who are in the market that will be looking to improve their defense either.

With the Kelly trade, the dominoes are beginning to fall in Boston. It is time for Chiarelli and company to pull the trigger and make another trade.