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Chiarelli On Toucher & Rich: Even With Thomas Cap Hit, Bruins Can Sign Big-Name Free Agent

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Tim Thomas  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Tim Thomas (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Boston Bruins

BOSTON (CBS) – It has already been a wild offseason for the Boston Bruins, and the real fun hasn’t even started yet.

The Bruins have been busy since they fell to the Washington Capitals in the first round, from Tim Thomas announcing he is taking the year off to the re-signing of Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich Thursday morning to sum it all up, starting with Thomas’ decision.

Chiarelli said when speaking with Thomas in the team’s exit interviews, the netminder never let him know his intentions were to take next season off.

“We have our exit interviews after the season, and there was never any indication to me that this was going to happen. I’m sure it was on Tim’s mind — I can’t speak exactly for him — but I was over at the World Championship in Helsinki, and got a call from his agent who said he was seriously considering taking the year off,” said Chiarelli.

Did this decision catch the Bruins’ GM off guard?

“I think if you took all the goalies in the league and in the minor leagues, I’d say 70-percent of them have certain quarks, and Tim is part of that 70-percent,” said Chiarelli. “That’s part of the nature of goaltending. We always knew what we had with Tim as a person. Bottom line is this took me by surprise, and it’s unconventional, but we have to deal with it.”

Is this a power play move by Thomas, whose no-trade clause was set to run out and was likely to dealt this offseason?

“I don’t think so,” said Chiarelli. “I know there are a lot of conspiracy theories, and maybe I’m naive. But based on my own discussions with him I think he’s tired and wants to reconnect with his family.”

Gresh & Zo: Do Bruins Need To Make Moves To Get Better?

Thomas will still go against the Bruins’ salary cap for the upcoming season, so will his decision hurt the team as they try make moves.

“There are some constraints because he is a cap hit, and there will be opportunities to trade him and that cap hit, so that may happen. But it may not. If it doesn’t, we’ll have flex going into next year, if everything remains the same, because we’ll be able to use (Marc) Savard’s LPI.”

While the Bruins will deal with the Thomas situation, Chiarelli said they still have room to sign a big-name free agent.

“The answer to that is yes. I don’t know if we would; I feel very strongly about our forward group,” said Chiarelli. “Part of when you do a real big signing like that, you have to look if it impacts and effects the balance of equity among your group, and that plays to team chemistry. That would be something we look at.”

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While he couldn’t comment on individual players – only saying that forward Zach Parise is “a very valuable member of the New Jersey Devils” –the Bruins do have their wish list for the summer.

But if the B’s don’t get who they want, Chiarelli has no reservations about staying put on the big name market.

“We have a list of players; the list is short and we’re going to explore them. If they don’t make sense, if we don’t sign them then I think we have a real strong forward group,” he said.

Chiarelli also gave a few medical updates, noting that both Adam McQuaid and Nathan Horton are coming along after suffering concussions during the 2012 season.

“Adam has been cleared to play, which is real good news,” said Chiarelli. “Nathan is very close to being cleared. He was seen by our doctors last week and I got real positive reports.”

How is Dougie Hamilton coming along, and can Bruins fans expect to see him in Boston next season? Will there even be a next season given the current labor situation? Find out that and more with Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli on Toucher & Rich!

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