Monday, October 19, 2009

Kobasew trade adds to pick bounty, organizational depth

By now, you've heard that Boston winger Chuck Kobasew was traded to the Minnesota Wild for a prospect, journeyman minor leaguer and Minnesota's second-round pick in 2011.

Kobasew was a popular player among Bruins fans because of his hard-driving style and energy. He put up a pair of 20-goal seasons for the B's, but became a victim of a tight cap in Beantown and goes to a team that will be able to use his attributes well. His age (26) and the fact that he has another year remaining on his reasonable cap hit made him a desireable commodity and the trade itself is not a surprise. The timing a is abit curious with Milan Lucic out for the next month or so with a hand injury, but his being on the IR and Kobasew's departure opens the door for a pair of impressive young forwards who were off to good starts in Providence: Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka.

As for Boston, they receive prospect Alexander Fallstrom, Minnesota's fourth-round pick, 116th overall, in last June's draft (ironically enough- acquired with the selection Boston had sent to them with Petr Kalus as part of the Manny Fernandez trade).

Fallstrom spent two years at the storied Shattuck St. Mary's prep school in Faribault, MN, leading them in scoring last year with 87 points in 57 games. Shattuck has produced some legitimate NHL stars: Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise, Jonathan Toews and Kyle Okposo to name a few, and the B's hope that Fallstrom, despite the fact that he was passed over in the '08 NHL draft and was only a fourth-round pick last year can continue that trend. The Swedish right winger, who passed on the more traditional route of joining a hockey club in his native country and moving up through the junior system to the eventual pro ranks, is in his first year at Harvard University under the tutelage of former Bruin Ted Donato. He joins an impressive freshman class which includes fellow '09 draftee Louis Leblanc (first round- Montreal). Fallstrom, who would have been the youngest player drafted had he been picked in '08 (with his birthdate falling right on the Sep. 15 deadline), has excellent size (6-foot-2, 192 pounds) and an all-around game, but needs to improve his quickness and refine his game. Harvard isn't exactly a great program to develop NHL prospects in, so it will be interesting to see how he progresses.

Craig Weller is a 28-year-old hard-nosed forward who was a former fifth-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2000 and has bounced around in various organizations never scoring more than 12 goals in a full minor league season, and tallying three times with the Phoenix Coyotes in his longest NHL stint of 59 games two years ago. He'll provide some useful experience and toughness down in Providence. He had one assist and seven penalty minutes in five games with the Houston Aeros before the trade.

The second-round pick could be in the top-15, given Minnesota's current struggles, but regardless of position, gives Peter Chiarelli another asset he can either keep or use to improve his hockey club in the present. Draft picks are becoming increasingly valuable in this age of cost certainty, so with five picks in the first two rounds of 2010, and another four in 2011, the Bruins GM is setting himself up nicely to be a legitimate player when upper-tier veteran talent is put on the market by sellers looking to get some value. For years, former Chicago Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon stockpiled high picks and look where his team is now (although a shame Tallon isn't around to reap the benefits of having built a legitimate contender), so if Chiarelli holds onto many of the picks, the Bruins will be major players at the draft table and should receive a real infusion of youth and talent to their system.

Kobasew is a good guy who played well for the Bruins, so this is one of those trades that you chalk up to being beneficial to both sides. Wild fans will like him, and his increased role on that club should see him finding the back of the net right away and making a positive impact.

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