BOSTON (CBS) — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke via conference call with the media on Monday to provide a glimpse of the team’s offseason plan in advance of the upcoming NHL Draft.
The major takeaways from the nearly 30-minute talk were that Chiarelli does not plan on buying out any contracts on his roster and that the team hopes to re-sign free agent Jarome Iginla.
Regarding Iginla, Chiarelli didn’t divulge details about the negotiations, but he did make it clear that the team wants him back.
“We’d like to sign Jarome. That’s what I can say,” Chiarelli said. “He’s been a valuable player for us. I think he’s a good a fit, and we’d like to sign him. With all due respect, I’m not going to comment on negotiations.”
Signing Iginla is no easy task, considering the Bruins this season will be paying a good chunk of the bonuses that Iginla earned last season. Fitting a new Iginla contract under the cap, while still signing restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, will require a lot of work from Chiarelli and the Bruins’ staff.
“We’ve got an overage that will apply to next year, and it’s obviously going to give us a not quite-as-high upper limit. So we’re going to have to make some harder decisions this year. It’s something that we prepared to do. We felt that we can sacrifice this year a little bit because next year we’re going to have to probably play someone like David Krejci more. We’re going to need some more room. This year, we’re in a lesser spot. We’ve got [Marc] Savard [long-term injured reserve relief], that helps soften the blow, but we’re going to have to be a little more restrictive this year. And we’re prepared to do that.”
Of course, the natural train of thought for a team facing a cap squeeze would be the use of a compliance buyout. Chris Kelly’s $3 million salary has been bandied about among media as a possible spot for the Bruins to save some cash, but Chiarelli said that’s not in the plans.
“We’re not going to make any buyouts at this time,” Chiarelli said. “We’re just not going to use any. We’re happy with the guys who are under contract with us. They’ve given us good service, and I don’t really want to use them for those guys. They are an ability to, as you call it, take a ‘mulligan,’ but at this time, we’re not going to use any.”
Chiarelli said the decision to not re-sign Shawn Thornton was a difficult one, but it’s just the first of many difficult decisions the team will have to make throughout the summer and the start of the season.
“Generally speaking, the decision on Shawn was a very hard one. He’s been here and part of this group for a long time, and that would apply to all of these guys that have been here, that have given us good service and have been a part of winning teams and Cup-winning teams,” Chiarelli said. “So they’re hard choices, there will be hard choices, but it may be that we don’t make hard choices and we keep as many people as we can and we go into the year, and maybe we do make those hard choices as the year progresses. It may be that all of these things happen at training camp. It may be that these things happen in November. I think a lot of people think these hard choices get made July 1. Choices do get made July 1, it may be that we can’t sign Jarome, it may be that we go in a different direction, it may be that we can’t sign Player X or Player Y. We’re in the midst of making these decisions. We want to see where the market plays out. I guess my point is that these decisions may stretch into the summer, they may stretch into training camp, and they may stretch into November.”
Chiarelli said that this year’s draft class is a bit thinner than past years, so picks might be considered a little less valuable than normal. With regard to the possibility of the Bruins making a trade heading up to the draft, Chiarelli said he’s not ruling out anything.
“Anything’s always available, and I would include that first-round pick,” Chiarelli said. “We’re lower down in the first round, and we’re probably going to look at moving up a little or moving down a little, depending on who’s available. I think we have a pretty tight list.”
Hardy and Zolak discussed Chiarelli’s conference call comments on Monday’s show. Listen below: