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Late Sunday evening, Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli traded right wing Chuck Kobasew to the Minnesota Wild for a 2011 second-round pick, the rights to Alexander Fallstrom, a fourth-round pick in this past summer’s draft, and 28-year-old forward Craig Weller.
The trade, intended as a wake-up call to the Bruins, who have started the season with a lackluster 3-4-0 record, also sheds Kobasew’s $2.3 million annual salary, a hefty price for a forward who has only notched one assist (and no goals) in seven games.
A former Boston College Eagle, Kobasew found himself back in the area when Chiarelli traded Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau, and a fourth-round draft pick to the Calgary Flames for him and Andrew Ference in 2007. Since then, Kobasew was one of Boston’s top producers, scoring 22 goals in addition to 17 assists in 2007-2008 and tallying 21 goals and 21 assists last season. With linemates Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, the team’s third line became one of the league’s best two-way combinations, scoring flashy goals and playing gritty defense. However, looking out of sorts to start the season, Kobasew’s lack of productivity and cumbersome salary condemned him to the trading block.
Neither player received in return for Kobasew are expected to make an immediate impact: Fallstrom, a Swedish native, began his freshman year at Harvard University this fall, and Weller, a fifth-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in 2000, will report to Providence. Instead, the Bruins recalled Brad Marchand (who has six goals and two assists in eight AHL games this season) and Vladimir Sobotka from the P-Bruins with the expectation that both will play in Boston’s next game on Wednesday against the Nashville Predators.
With the loss of Milan Lucic to the long-term injured reserve (broken finger), the line breakdown looks like this:
Players and fans both liked Chuck Kobasew for his gritty style and goal-scoring ability. However, neither he nor the team was producing up to expectations, a fact Chiarelli realized. This trade should jolt the locker room back into the hockey state of mind the B’s had last season, when they lost only six games at home.
The biggest benefit of this trade is the salary cap space gained, which gives the Bruins slightly more than $3 million worth of flexibility. With the cap space coupled with two first-round picks and three second-round picks in next year’s draft, the Bruins could be lining the stars up for a big trade later in the season, perhaps before the All-Star Break. Even if nothing comes of it, the Bruins will have plenty of draft picks and prospects to enjoy in the future.