The Bruins came into the deadline with one position needing an upgrade over others, and that would be defense. By the time the deadline passed, they had picked up former Edmonton Oiler Corey Potter off waivers, and also traded a 2014 third-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Andrej Meszaros. While the acquisition of Potter is more of a depth move, Meszaros will most likely see his fair share of starts.
So, with Boston looking to improve their blue line at the deadline, is the pickup of Meszaros enough to get the job done?
Honestly, it all depends on which version of the Slovakian defenseman the club gets. In eight years of league experience, it doesn’t appear that Meszaros’ strength is consistency. For example, in his rookie year with the Ottawa Senators and his first season with the Flyers, he put up solid numbers. He posted 39 points as a rookie, 32 in his debut year with Philadelphia. Both years he had a +/- rating of at least +30.
On the flip side, he also has a couple seasons where his +/- was -14 or below. Last season, he only played 11 games, tallying just two assists. This year, he’s been scratched more than a few times, appearing in only 38 games to date. With five goals and 12 assists in those games, his numbers aren’t too shabby, but they aren’t game-changing. Overall, he’s not exactly known for his defensive or skating abilities.
Not exactly a solid endorsement, I understand, but you never know what a change of scenery does for a player. Meszaros is leaving a Flyers team fighting to get into the postseason and heading to a Bruins club contending for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Not to mention, he could be lining up next to a fellow countryman.
At this point, we don’t know if Meszaros is going to be partnered with Boston captain Zdeno Chara, but the two have lined up before when they were both in Ottawa. They’ve also played together on the Slovakian national team. You’d like to believe playing with the best defenseman in the league would make Meszaros better by osmosis.
Meszaros also brings something Boston’s rookie defensemen don’t have a ton of; playoff experience. Though he’s been just OK in his 46 postseason games, experience is something that can’t be taught. Kevan Miller, the player Meszaros is likely to replace on the roster, has never seen postseason action. Boston probably doesn’t want to risk throwing him to the wolves right away, which could result in more than a few mistakes caused by playoff jitters.
The loss of Dennis Seidenberg, arguably the team’s second-best defenseman, could hardly have been fixed at the deadline, at least not without giving up a lot. At the same time, it was doubtful the team came into trade season with this as their key goal. Meszaros will hardly make anyone forget about Seidenberg, nor will he make Boston significantly tougher defensively. He does, however, bring a few things to the table that can benefit the club. While his addition doesn’t make the Bruins Stanley Cup favorites, if he can make solid contributions, Meszaros could certainly help the cause.