Bruins’ Stempniak signing shouldn’t change your pulse rate

Matt Kalman
February 24, 2019 - 3:41 pm

Few players benefitted from the Bruins’ trip to China more than Lee Stempniak.

The forward attended training camp on a professional tryout agreement, stayed in North America while most of Boston’s important players ventured to the Far East, and he accumulated six points (two goals, four assists) in four exhibition games.

However, Stempniak’s production didn’t translate into a contract with the Bruins – until now.

The 36-year-old’s months of practicing with the Bruins finally paid off Sunday when he signed a one-year deal (for the rest of the current season) and was placed on waivers for the purposes of assigning him to Providence of the American Hockey League. Stempniak has already played four games for the P-Bruins and had four points (two goals, two assists), proving he’s not completely over the hill.

The timing of Stempniak’s signing – one day before the 3 p.m. Monday NHL trade deadline – means he’s eligible to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It also means some people are losing their minds, believing that days after general manager Don Sweeney traded for forward Charlie Coyle the GM is now looking at Stempniak as some sort of missing piece of the Bruins’ Cup drive.

Be assured that even if Sweeney stands pat up to and after 3 p.m. Monday, he’s not looking at Stempniak to be some savior of the second line. Stempniak is a veteran of 909 regular-season games and has 469 points. Surprisingly he’s only played in 28 postseason games, but that’s a product of his playing on many terrible teams. He’s a known quantity that adds depth to the Bruins, nothing more.

The Bruins have proven the past couple seasons that a team can never have enough defensemen. But the case could be made a club can never have enough players for every position. Especially if Sweeney winds up trading a lineup fixture like Peter Cehlarik or Danton Heinen before the deadline, the Bruins need someone like Stempniak to be able to step in if several players ahead of him on the depth chart go down with injuries.

If Sweeney doesn’t make a trade before Monday afternoon, he’ll tell you that Coyle is a major improvement and that David Pastrnak’s eventual return from injury will be Boston’s big addition. That’s fine if he’s not all-in to win this season.

And Stempniak will continue to play for the P-Bruins and/or practice with Boston. If the offense dries up, maybe Stempniak goes into the lineup and the Bruins find lightning in a bottle. Maybe he goes into the lineup because of injuries and just focuses on checking and helps his line play opponents to a stalemate.

There’s no risk here and there’s no reason to lose your mind over this signing. Every team needs depth and that’s what Stempniak is here to provide.

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