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The Departed: One week in February, three trades and the 2010-11 Boston Bruins

This past week marked the 10th anniversary of the three trades that put the finishing touches on the 2010-11 Boston Bruins Stanley Cup winning roster. Ten years ago, on Feb. 15th, the Bruins acquired Chris Kelly from the Ottawa Senators then on Feb. 18th, the B’s made two more trades adding Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik from the Atlanta Thrashers.

The team went on a road trip and won six away games in a row for the first time since the 1971-72 season—tying a franchise record in the process— and, as you may already be aware, won the Cup in both of those seasons.

This isn’t about Kelly, Kaberle, Peverley and Valabik (who would never suit up for Boston).

It’s about the parts and pieces that left the “Hub of the Universe” and missed out on 2011 Stanley Cup champion rings in the three biggest trades before the Feb. 28, 2011 trade deadline.

Acquiring a familiar face from Ottawa for a pick

Boston traded a 2011 2nd round pick to the Senators for Kelly in a one-for-one transaction. Ottawa drafted Shane Prince later that June with the 61st overall pick in the 2011 Draft.

Kelly came to the Bruins under the guise of then B’s General Manager, Peter Chiarelli, who had served as an Assistant General Manager with the Sens for two seasons before he was hired by Boston on May 26, 2006. He wound up centering the third line and had a role among the bottom-six forwards from 2011-16.

Prince, meanwhile, would make his National Hockey League debut with Ottawa in the 2014-15 season. He had an assist in two games before making the roster full-time in 2015-16.

Though he amassed 148 points in 206 games with the Binghamton Senators (AHL) from 2012-13 through 2014-15, Prince only managed 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 44 games for Ottawa in parts of two seasons before he was traded to the New York Islanders with a 2016 7th round pick for New York’s 2016 3rd round pick on Feb. 29, 2016.

In parts of three seasons with the Islanders, he had 9-16—25 totals in 84 games before being sent down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2017-18, where he had two assists in four games.

He was not tendered a qualifying offer from New York in the offseason and left for HC Davos in the Swiss National League for part of 2018-19 before joining Sibir Novosibirsk in the Kontinental Hockey League (Russia). Prince has spent the last two seasons with Dinamo Minsk in the KHL.

The Big Deal™

Chiarelli risked the future in getting Kaberle— a long-time NHL veteran defender looking for his first Cup ring after spending a dozen years with Toronto— by sending Joe Colborne, a 2011 1st round pick and a 2012 2nd round pick to the Maple Leafs in return.

Kaberle, of course, went on to tie David Krejci for the second-most assists (11) on the roster in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, leading all defenders in assists and tying Dennis Seidenberg (1-10—11 totals in 25 games played) in points from the blue line that postseason.

Colborne, meanwhile, with his 6-foot-5 frame was touted as possibly being the next biggest thing at center since Joe Thornton when he was drafted by Boston. The 16th overall pick by the Bruins in the 2008 NHL Draft made his league debut at the tail end of the 2010-11 season with the Maple Leafs, recording an assist in his first and only game that year as a 21-year-old.

He then spent parts of the next two seasons fluctuating between the Toronto Marlies (AHL) and Maple Leafs before finally amassing six points (one goal, five assists) in 16 total games with Toronto’s NHL roster from 2010-11 through 2012-13.

Colborne was then dealt to the Calgary Flames for Calgary’s 2014 4th round pick (later traded to St. Louis, where the Blues selected Ville Husso) on Sept. 29, 2013. He had 37-63—100 totals in 217 games with the Flames from 2013-16, then joined the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent on July 1, 2016, where he went on to produce eight points (four goals, four assists) in 62 games for the Avs in 2016-17.

An aside to make matters worse for Toronto…

Toronto traded up in the 2011 1st round with the Anaheim Ducks, flipping Boston’s 2011 1st round pick (30th overall) with Toronto’s own 2011 2nd round pick (39th overall) to the Ducks for Anaheim’s own 2011 1st round pick (22nd overall).

The Maple Leafs drafted Tyler Biggs with the 22nd overall pick in 2011.

The Ducks drafted Rickard Rakell 30th overall and John Gibson 39th overall in 2011. Rakell and Gibson are core members of Anaheim’s roster to this day, though Rakell’s name may come up in trade rumors as the Ducks navigate their ongoing rebuild.

Biggs, on the other hand, never appeared in an NHL game and most recently spent 2018-19 split between the Nottingham Panthers (EIHL) and Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL) before retiring at the season’s end.

Toronto later flipped Boston’s 2012 2nd round pick (54th overall) to Colorado for defender, John-Michael Liles, on the first day of the 2011 NHL Draft on June 24, 2011.

The Avs later flipped that pick and more as part of a trade with the Washington Capitals for Semyon Varlamov on July 1, 2011, while the Caps dealt the pick to the Dallas Stars with Cody Eakin as part of a deal for the since disgraced, Mike Ribeiro, on June 22, 2012. Dallas selected Mike Winther 54th overall the following day.

I’m a Leafs fan, so what?

Really the focus here is just on the fact that Toronto drafted Biggs over Rakell or Gibson—the latter later contributing to the reason why the Maple Leafs were able to acquire their current goaltender, Frederik Andersen, from the Ducks on June 20, 2016.

Anaheim had two good young goaltenders and had to choose between them. Meanwhile, Toronto was looking to acquire one of them because of a need they had to fill.

Entering Saturday, Gibson has a 144-109-36 record in 301 games with a career 2.52 goals against average, a career .918 save percentage and 22 shutouts since his league debut in 2013-14, while Andersen’s managed a career 223-95-47 record, 2.63 GAA, .916 SV% and 19 shutouts in 384 games with Anaheim and Toronto since that same season.

Andersen also has a 146-69-35 record in 259 games with Toronto, as well as a 2.77 GAA, a .915 SV% and 13 shutouts in that span.

Wheels up

Kaberle was one of the big names nearing the 2011 trade deadline and thought to be going at a premium price, but the biggest piece that Chiarelli paid wasn’t in the deal with the Maple Leafs.

No, it was by trading Wheeler and Stuart to Atlanta for Peverley and Valabik.

Wheeler came to the Bruins via free agency on July 1, 2008, after he was originally drafted 5th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004, attended the University of Minnesota and chose not to sign with the Coyotes.

He made his league debut with the B’s in the 2008-09 season and had 45 points (21 goals, 24 assists) in a respectable 81-game first year campaign. He managed 38 points in his sophomore season (82 games played) and had 27 points in 58 games before being traded to Atlanta.

Wheeler’s amassed 665 points (219 goals, 446 assists) in 726 career games with the Thrashers/Jets franchise since the trade.

Though the Bruins won the Cup in 2011 and Wheeler wasn’t bad, but not quite the player he is now, sometimes a general manager can get away with moving what would otherwise be a piece of the core for immediate success. Usually only if you win, like, that year or the next.

While Boston went to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and won, as well as two more Final appearances since in 2013 and 2019, the closest Wheeler has come to a Cup ring so far is in a five-game series loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Western Conference Final.

Not Stuart Little

Stuart was Boston’s 21st overall pick in the 2003 Draft. He made his league debut with the Bruins in the 2005-06 season, amassing 1-1—2 totals in 17 games that season as a 21-year-old blue liner.

He went on to appear in parts of six seasons for Boston from 2005-11, scoring 13 goals and notching 27 assists (40 points) in 283 games as a defender before being traded with Wheeler for Peverley and Valabik.

Boston needed another third line forward in Peverley, while Stuart sweetened the deal as a durable and dependable player reminiscent of the likes of Gary Doak or Deryk Engelland. The Bruins had Kaberle coming in on an already rather full defense, while Atlanta benefited from the solid veteran presence Stuart had established in the fundamentals of his game.

Though the Thrashers finished off the 2010-11 season in Atlanta, the team was sold to True North Sports and Entertainment and relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba that summer as no potential ownership group local to Atlanta emerged with Atlanta Spirit, LLC. Fighting amongst themselves and selling the team in the meantime.

Stuart went on to put up 53 points (13 goals, 40 assists) in 390 games for the Thrashers/Jets before Winnipeg bought out the final year of his contract on June 30, 2017.

That September, Stuart joined the Chicago Blackhawks at training camp on a player tryout agreement, but was released ten days later on Sept. 21, 2017, before joining Adler Mannheim (DEL) as a free agent on Oct. 11, 2017, in Germany.

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