BOSTON, MA -- On the days leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline, teams throughout the League made deals to bolster their lineups. However, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney stood pat as his club won seven of eight games under Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and moved into a second-place tie with the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division leading into the deadline.
Deadline day, itself, came and went without Boston making a trade, or so it appeared.
Just moments after the 3:00 pm deadline passed, Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston tweeted that the Bruins had swung a deal for a forward and at 5:23pm, the team made it official by announcing that it had acquired Drew Stafford from the Winnipeg Jets for a conditional sixth-round draft choice in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Should Boston qualify for the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the sixth-round pick becomes a fifth-round selection. If they progress to the second-round of the postseason, the pick will become a fourth-round selection. An added condition says that Stafford must play in 50-percent of the games.
"We're fortunate that we were able to add Drew to our lineup," said Sweeney about the big (6-foot-2, 214-pound) forward. "I felt that it was an area that we could add, and I was going to look to do that without pulling way into the things that we'd been sort of committed to doing. But, excited that a player that has the ability to play up and down the lineup, has scoring attributes, has size and strength, and hopefully will be a good complement to our group.
"I think he can play, probably, anywhere on the right side. Good shot, strength, can get to the net, and has a powerplay acumen, and has a good shot. Hopefully, he can contribute in all those areas."
Stafford, who was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft (1st Round, 13th overall), has skated in 707 career NHL games with the Sabres and the Jets. He has compiled 179 goals and 213 assists for 392 points with 375 penalty minutes. He has also appeared in 24 postseason games in his career, posting four goals and five assists for nine points.
This season, the native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has appeared in 40 games with Winnipeg, scoring four goals and nine assists for 13 points with 12 penalty minutes.
Stafford is in the final year of a two-year contract that carries an average annual value of $4.35 million and will become an unrestricted free agent if he does not sign a new deal with the Bruins.
Stafford should fit in nicely on the team's third line that can use his experience with youngsters Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner.
Although it was thought that Sweeney might swing a deal for a veteran defenseman, it was clear that would not happen as players such as Ron Hainsey (Pittsburgh), Kevin Shattenkirk (Washington), and Brendan Smith (New York Rangers), came off the board.
"Our D (defense) has played well," Sweeney said. "And I hope they continue to be healthy and play well. We're not going to shy away from the fact that I explored situations that might help our team and will continue to do so. But, I think our D has played well."
With that in mind, Sweeney looked for a way to add to his club without forfeiting prospects or a veteran.
"Well, it's a combination," the GM said. "I think our players have played well and had some players respond to some situations that they've been put in. Our core players are not surprising me in the roles they've taken in the last little while and, hopefully, going forward.
"So, again, trying to commit to them and a winning approach that we're always going to maintain here but always understanding that striking deals are pretty difficult without sacrificing some of the things that we've committed to."
This season, the Bruins are committed to competing for the Stanley Cup after spending the last two springs watching the playoffs on their televisions. Players' jobs may be on the line, but more so, those at the management level may be at stake making playing in the postseason imperative in Boston.
Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.