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Kalman: Jarome Iginla’s Status Key To Bruins’ Offseason Plans

By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
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Jarome Iginla (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Jarome Iginla (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — If you’re Jarome Iginla and you’re willing to take another incentive-laden one-year deal just to stay with the Bruins beyond this summer, you should have your Gatorade bottles checked for the type of stuff that makes people think Jerry Garcia is still alive.

If anyone deserves a multi-year deal that might even last the remainder of his NHL career, it’s Iginla. The 36-year-old shared the Bruins’ lead with 30 goals last season and “struggled” to score five goals in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was a perfect role model for all the Bruins’ players and a key reason center David Krejci and left winger Milan Lucic had their most consistent regular seasons of their NHL careers. Oh, by the way, did I mention he’s Jarome Iginla? He has 560 NHL goals and has scored at least 30 in 12 straight full NHL seasons. I mean, give this man the mega-bucks at mega-term.

Iginla should not do the Bruins any more favors, no matter how much he enjoyed his teammates, the organization, the traffic, the chowder and the non-stop playing of Aerosmith and Dropkick Murphys songs on the radio. He deserves to make market value and have security without worrying that one injury or point drought could cost him, regardless of the millions he’s made over the past couple of decades.

During a conference call about the upcoming NHL Draft (the Bruins pick No. 25 on Friday night; control your excitement) and free agency, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli held firm to his policy of not commenting on specific negotiations unless he decides to comment on specific negotiations. But I think I was able to draw some conclusions about the Iginla situation using my eight years of experience with “speaking Chiarelli” and also general knowledge about the free-agent landscape and the Bruins’ salary-cap situation.

I can start with the one thing Chiarelli was willing to say Monday about Iginla, and that’s that the Bruins want him back. After that, it was pretty obvious that even if Iginla was willing to do another incentive-laden deal, the Bruins wouldn’t necessarily be ready to sign up for that. Chiarelli said the overage charge that will lower their cap ceiling this season because of bonuses paid out for 2013-14 performance (close to $5 million according to CapGeek.com) is tolerable heading into 2014-15. However, with David Krejci headlining a pretty solid class of Bruins players eligible for UFA status in the summer of 2015, the Bruins aren’t looking to limit their options with bonus overages of a similar amount in the near future.

So then you consider what everyone with an Internet connection knows: if the Bruins pay Iginla at market value, they’re going to need to create some cap space to legally field a team under the cap ceiling. That could make defensemen Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk, and forwards Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly available for moves. Chiarelli said Monday he wouldn’t be buying out anyone, but left himself a little bit of wiggle by saying he wasn’t considering that action “at this time.” Cap-friendly restricted free-agent deals with defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith could also help the Bruins. And they still have the Marc Savard LTIR to free up some space.

But the hard choices are coming down the pipe whether Iginla signs or not. Chiarelli was quick to point out he might have to make those choices later in the summer, or during training camp or in the fall. Injuries are bound to happen. Players are bound to play their way of the team. Sometimes players just decide to take a year off and focus on the “four F’s.” Who knows?

Obviously a core player or two will have to go under one game plan. Chiarelli acknowledged that he liked the competition the Bruins had at forward last training camp and that this year he expects the same thing. With Shawn Thornton already being told he’s gone and possibly another veteran or two vacating the bottom six, Justin Florek, Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner and others will get a chance to compete and possibly earn a regular spot.

There are other game plans in Chiarelli’s book too.

“I have an idea of my preference,” the GM said. “I’m not going to share it with you, but there’s certainly some moving parts right now.”

Chiarelli says he has a Plan B should Iginla opt to move out. Hopefully for the Bruins, this year’s Plan B is better than last year’s, which was basically lose Nathan Horton, miss out on Daniel Alfredsson and then have Iginla sign the Bruins rather than vice versa. It worked out, but not quite as planned.

Chiarelli said the Bruins might move up or down in the draft depending on offers and available players. He said he’s going to make decisions on other UFAs and RFAs as the month winds down. The Bruins aren’t planning to have any potential UFAs visit the Hub during the interview process.

Business is moving along, but really nothing can happen until the Iginla situation is settled. And that’s the ultimate synopsis of what Chiarelli had to say Monday.

Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.

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