BOSTON (CBS) – NHL free agency is officially underway, but do not expect the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins to do too much over the weekend as other teams run of and spend the big bucks.
Free agency began at noon on Friday, but B’s General Manager Peter Chiarelli will likely stand pat as other teams head into the frenzy, throwing massive amounts of money at big-name free agents.
Chiarelli stated when the season ended he is unlikely to do anything major, and certainly will not blow up the team that just won the Stanley Cup.
“I’m not going to do that, you know we won the Stanley Cup, we do have some good players that are still young,” he said on a conference call with the media on Wednesday.
Chiarelli and the Bruins are letting their own free agents Tomas Kaberle and Michael Ryder test the market, which could mean their time in Boston is over. Some team will throw a large pile of cash at Ryder, who played well in the postseason after a disappointing regular season. Kaberle was a disappointment in Boston, but there remains a chance the B’s could bring the defenseman back if the price is right. A full training camp with the Bruins could make the difference, but many feel it will not be worth it to find out.
So instead of bringing back a player who did not play all that great, despite 11 playoff assists, why not go after a better player? Well, Chiarelli is afraid of veterans getting too much compensation for past accomplishments that will not mean much during their time in Boston.
“I see generally older players available and I see very few impact or significant players,” said the Bruins GM. “You have to resist sometimes, at least I feel the need to resist, going out and giving these guys, they’ve earned the right to get what they get, but I feel the need to resist to give them the extra term or the extra dollar and that’s what ends up happening.”
“There’s just not the high-end players,” he said. “Then of course you’ve got the floor of the cap and teams have to spend. So you’re going to get contracts I think that, maybe that, they’re generally higher in the unrestricted market but I even think they’ll be that added premium because teams have to spend. Then all the other comps follow in line. And that’s why I’m a little cautious going into this market. There’s not the supply that there normally is and it think the demand is greater because of the cap floor and teams have to spend. “
The Bruins will have roughlty $10-12 million to play with, depending on how much they need to give restricted free agent Brad Marchand and the status of Marc Savard. There are a few free agents out there that could help, replacing veteran Mark Recchi will be his toughest task. Veterans such as Chris Drury and Simon Gagne are available, but will likely command a little bit of change for their services.
Drury, a Boston University legend, was bought out from the New York Rangers this offseason, but is feared to have a bad knee. He played in just 24 games in 2010-11.
Gagne is a different story. The 31-one-year old forward scored 17 goals for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, his first in Tampa after being traded from the Philadelphia Flyers. Gagne enjoyed a 10-year career in Philadelphia, scoring 30 goals three times, including a pair of 40 goal seasons. His veteran presence, and left-handed shot, would mix well with the Bruins second line, but he may fall into the overpriced category Chiarelli is concerned about.
If Kaberle does not re-sign, for very short money, the Bruins do have some internal options to take his spot on defense. Adam McQuaid, and his mullet, could join forces with Andrew Ference or Johnny Boychuck on the second line (if Boston elects to keep the Chara-Seidenberg combo that worked so well on the front line), and Steven Kampfer should be back from a knee injury. But it will be a lot to ask for young players to step up that much, especially for a team where expectations will be so high.
Look for the Bruins to make a few moves during the offseason, but nothing too flashy in the opening days of free agency. There is also the chance Chiarelli adds some players via trades, which has been his forte the past few years, but again, he will not want to break up too much of a team that is scheduled to raise a banner in October.
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