- Associated Press - Friday, February 18, 2011

OTTAWA (AP) - The Boston Bruins acquired defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto, looking to bolster their blue line as well as their hopes for a Stanley Cup run.

Boston sent prospect Joe Colborne and two draft picks to the Maple Leafs on Friday for the three-time All-Star.

“We felt the time was right with our team,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “So it’s a strong message to our team and to our fans that we want to win and we want to be successful.”

Kaberle made his debut with the Bruins hours after the deal.

“It’s a young team and fast and I think they’ve got a lot of expectations, and I’m the same way,” Kaberle said following the Boston’s 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.

Besides Colborne, a center taken in the first round in 2008, the Bruins gave up their first-round selection in 2011; they also would send the Maple Leafs a second-round pick in ‘12 if they re-sign Kaberle or reach the Stanley Cup finals.

The Bruins still will have the first-round pick they got from Toronto _ likely to be a better pick _ in the Phil Kessel deal.

The Bruins also traded defenseman Mark Stuart and right wing Blake Wheeler to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for center Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik.

The Bruins lead the Northeast Division and began Friday as the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race with 24 games left in the regular season.

“It’s a huge boost,” Bruins All-Star defenseman Zdeno Chara said after the Ottawa game. “It’s something to get very excited about. Every team is trying to improve every year and our management team really stepped it up and did a hell of a job.”

Last season the Bruins were knocked out in the second round of the playoffs by Philadelphia, dropping four straight games after taking a 3-0 lead.

“I looked at the two deals tied together and how they have improved our team,” Chiarelli said. “We felt that we needed a player like Tomas, a player with good vision, a good skater, can quarterback a power play, has played many, many games in the league. Very smart, heavy player, can skate. … It was an important piece for us to get, and obviously we had to pay a price.”

The Bruins also acquired center Chris Kelly from Ottawa earlier this week.

The 32-year-old Kaberle had spent his entire career with the Maple Leafs and was the only player remaining from the team’s last playoff season in 2004. He is in the final year of a contract that pays him $4.25 million and will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer.

“The player did not want to leave, he asked for a (contract) extension several times,” said Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke said.

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