February 18, 2011
After 12 seasons in blue and white, the Maple Leafs have traded the veteran defenceman to the Boston Bruins in exchange for prospect centre Joe Colborne(notes), the Bruins' first round pick in 2011 and a conditional draft pick.
It's believed the Leafs would get Boston's first round pick this June (not the second of two first rounders sent to the Bruins in the Kessel deal) and a prospect. Winger Blake Wheeler(notes) is apparently not in play, but the Leafs might be zeroing in on one of two good Boston prospects, Ontario junior Ryan Spooner(notes) or Providence centre Joe Colborne.
For Leaf fans, Colborne might be the prospect they'd be happiest with, given that he's 6-foot-5 and was Boston's first rounder back in 2008. Spooner has been a more prolific offensive player, particularly this year with Doug Gilmour's Kingston Frontenacs, but he's not as big as Colborne.
The Leafs weren’t getting their own pick back from the Kessel trade, and Wheeler seemed like a bit of overpayment even if the salary dump made sense. As it stands, for a player who had the puck in his zone as far as leaving via his no-trade clause, this is a solid return for Brian Burke and a total overpayment by Boston – even if it’s for a puck-moving defenseman that could be the final piece for the Cup.
Emphasis on "could be." And he's a free agent. Much more on this later, but know this: even as overcompensation, these are assets Boston could afford to move.
UPDATE: The Bruins cleared out salary by trading defeneman Mark Stuart(notes) and center Blake Wheeler to the Atlanta Thrashers for Rich Peverley(notes) and Boris Valabik(notes), per McKenzie and the AJC.
The official release from the Thrashers:
The Atlanta Thrashers have acquired forward Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart from the Boston Bruins in exchange for forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik, according to General Manager Rick Dudley.
“This deal improves our hockey club in both the short and long-term,” said Dudley. “With Blake Wheeler, we are getting a versatile two-way forward, and Mark Stuart will help anchor our already strong group of defensemen as we make a push toward the playoffs.”
Coach Craig Ramsay coached Wheeler and Stuart in Boston. From Bruins Blog:"Valabik is best remembered for taking several shots at Phil Kessel(notes) two years ago, which brought fellow Slovakian Zdeno Chara(notes) calling."
CSNNE Joe Haggerty's take: "Boris Valabik has idolized Zdeno Chara for a long time. Interesting addition to Boston's mix for depth purposes. I like Peverley a lot."
As do I, and the best part about this swap for the Bruins is that they get another year of Peverley at a $1.4 million base salary next season while Wheeler does RFA this summer and will get a raise on $2.2 million. And he's better offensively than Wheeler.