Trade bar set too high?

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli says the NHL's trade deadline could be one of the slowest in recent...

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli says the NHL's trade deadline could be one of the slowest in recent memory. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency/Files)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:05 PM ET

As the general manager of the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, Peter Chiarelli wasn't about to tell us the names on his list of players he believes will be available by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

Having said that, Chiarelli did offer up this small piece of insight.

“It’s a short list,” he confided on Saturday afternoon.

Truth be told, Chiarelli suspects that is the case for the other 29 teams in the National Hockey League as well. In his mind, it could be one of the slowest trade deadline periods in recent memory. Why?

1. The tight standings squeeze: When the NHL implemented a salary cap after the lockout of 2004-05, parity came to the league. Or, is that parody? Either way, with so many teams squeezed in tightly within so few points, there seems to be a reluctance to offer up resources.

“The races are so tight, it seems that many teams still think they have a shot and don’t want to give up players,” Chiarelli said. “And, even though I can’t speak for them, it seems the teams that are almost out of it want to stay competitive instead of having (a housecleaning).”

2. The high price of acquiring talent: A year ago, the Bruins gave up former first-round forward Joe Colborne, a first-round pick in 2011 and a conditional second-round pick in 2012 to acquire Tomas Kaberle from the Maple Leafs. When the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup final last June, that ensured that the Leafs would get the aforementioned second-rounder as part of the package.

That was a hefty cost to shell out for Kaberle, a move Chiarelli feels probably had a domino effect throughout the league.

“The bar has been set very high throughout the league in terms of the asking price for talent, and that probably has to do with what we gave up for Kaberle,” Chiarelli said. “If you want a good player, you are going to have to pay.”

3. Dwindling talent pool?: Chiarelli wonders whether the talent pool throughout the NHL is thinning out, causing teams to re-sign many of their top pending free agents instead of allowing them to test the market or, at least, be moved as a rental player.

Another legitimate point that Chiarelli makes: History shows that rarely does an elite talent who is moved at the deadline, often as a rental, go on to play an immediate major role with his new team.

“If you look back, on average, those types of players haven’t left a deep impact right away when they change scenery,” Chiarelli said. “Generally speaking, teams that won did not hugely benefit from bringing in a (big name) at the deadline.”

Indeed, sometimes the smaller deals are the ones that pay the most lucrative dividends.

Just before the 2010 deadline, Chiarelli’s pickup of defenceman Dennis Seidenberg did not get a lot of publicity. Nor did the 2011 pre-deadline acquisitions of Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.

Interestingly, it could be argued that the Bruins would not have gone on to win the 2011 Stanley Cup if not for the contributions of all three men.

During the Stanley Cup final, the Vancouver Canucks often would dump the puck into Seidenberg’s corner in order to avoid trying to wrangle it away from his partner, Zdeno Chara.

Thanks in part to Seidenberg’s ability to move the puck quickly, that didn’t really work as well as planned.

In the end, the trio of Seidenberg, Kelly and Peverley outpointed the Canucks trio of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler 9-6 during the final, allowing Boston to capture its first Stanley Cup since 1972.

Yet, leading up to the 2012 trade deadline, Chiarelli isn’t even sure there are any Kellys, Peverleys or Seidenbergs to be had by any team. The cupboard of available talent, it seems, is pretty bare.

“I don’t even know if guys like those three exist this year,” he said.

In other words, Chiarelli doesn’t expect a lot of player movement anywhere around the NHL in the days leading up to Feb. 27.


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