With all the talk about the Boston Bruins acquiring a veteran defenseman in the trade window, Winnipeg Jets‘ alternate captain Mark Stuart could be the main target. Out of all the defensemen available on the trade market, Stuart particularly stands out for several reasons.
First, he holds prior experience playing with the B’s. In fact, Stuart made appearances for Boston’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. After performing well at the Dunkin Donuts Center, Stuart greeted a call-up in the 2005-2006 season and suited up for 17 NHL games. Stuart skated in 17 professional games the next year before being recalled to Rhode Island’s capital city. The 2007 season demonstrated his determination to hang tough in the Bruins’ lineup for 82 games. He played every single regular season game and retained a +2 plus-minus ratio. A fine defensemen for the B’s in his first full campaign as a professional, Stuart remained a solid defender for the next three years in Boston. Given his familiarity with Claude Julien‘s system, Stuart could arrive back in Beantown and make an immediate impact protecting the twine.
Second, there’s not much of a learning curve involved with the 29-year-old. In fact, any veteran D-man could understand and adapt to Julien’s defensive schemes quickly. Stuart, though, fits the Bruins’ player mold as a tough, grind-it-out skater with decent speed up ice. He may not be the most dynamic blue-liner out there, but he can block shots fantastically. Several of Boston’s defensemen–Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller–display the same bold style of play. Stuart could serve in the role of an experienced mentor to these youngsters.
The most compelling aspect of Stuart for the B’s front office is his price tag. The Buffalo Sabres‘ Henrik Tallinder and Ottawa Senators‘ Chris Phillips would inflict cap hits of roughly $3 million each. Stuart, despite his alternate captaincy, only affects the Jets with a $1.7 million loss.
CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty explained that Chiarelli wouldn’t be looking to deal young D-men or first-round picks before the deadline. The Bruins, despite holding only a $2.24 millon in cap space, could still make an attempt for Stuart.
Overall, Stuart’s a good match to the Bruins’ ”seasoned pro” expectation, but the financial aspects of pro hockey will have the final call.