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Looks like Marc Savard’s deal should stick

09.02.10 at 12:48 pm ET
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Marc Savard was popular enough this offseason before it came to light that his seven-year, $28.5 million deal was under investigation by the NHL. The subject of trade rumors throughout the summer, there has been plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Bruins’ center, but it appears at least some of the confusion may be resolved.

According to a report from Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the NHL has notified that the NHLPA that it will “grandfather” back-loaded contracts, including the most recent Ilya Kovalchuk proposal, under the condition that the cap hit is is calculated slightly differently for future deals. Currently, a player’s cap hit is determined by dividing total money by total years. This has led to some clever maneuvering by NHL teams, who have simply inked players to front-loaded contracts that have addition years tacked on at very little cost. This means the player gets the big money they want while the teams face a more manageable cap hit.

Count Savard among the group of players to sign such deals, as he makes more than half his deal’s money in the first two seasons of his contract. The NHL is proposing that from now on, cap hits do not factor in salaries of seasons in which the player is 40 years old. This prevents such contracts from getting out of hand, though it is worth noting that Savard, 33 and born in July, will be 39 when his deal expires.

The players union has until 5 p.m. Friday to accept the terms, according to the report.

Read More: Marc Savard,

A productive offseason appears over

09.01.10 at 12:26 am ET
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There are some pretty big similarities and differences that come to mind when looking at how the Bruins entered training camp last season vs. how they will do so this month (September 17). The biggest similarity isn’t too hard to find, as the team is coming off a Game 7 defeat in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second time in as many years.

Some things, though, are just the opposite of what they were a year ago. Last season, the biggest question regarded what would happen to the team’s hotshot youngster in Phil Kessel. Five days into camp, Kessel was a Maple Leaf and a much richer man. This season, with Tyler Seguin, the team enters camp with the excitement that surrounds a new young star (refraining from overusing “wunderkind”).

Last year, it was calculating whether the offense would still be elite without Kessel (it wasn’t). This season, it’s a matter of how much better it becomes with Seguin and Nathan Horton.

Last year carried the excitement of a re-signed Vezina winner in Tim Thomas. This year, the team will enter camp with a goalie who was forced to hear his name in trade speculation.

The Bruins have made the moves and non-moves that they’ve made and haven’t made, and now it appears they are ready to go for camp. General manager Peter Chiarelli caught up with Matt Kalman of the Bruins Blog (always a good read) Tuesday and said that the squad you see now is likely the one you’ll see in just over two weeks.

‘€œI’€™m happy where we’€™re at,” Chiarelli told Kalman. I know there’€™s been some stuff in the summer with Tim [Thomas] and Marc [Savard], and that has blown by, and we’€™ve got those two players on our roster, we’€™ve got some young blood coming and that’€™s where we’€™re at.’€

The question now is whether the team has done enough to consider themselves a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference given their offseason. Here are a few of the positives:

- Tuukka Rask is a year older and led the league last season in GAA and save percentage while splitting time with Thomas.

- Horton may be in the best situation he’s been in thus far in his career.

- The roster looks strong enough to perhaps be considered favorites in the Northeast division.

And negatives:

- The team could be a puck-moving blueliner away from having the defensive group it needs.

- It may not get the same attention as the Tom Brady situation, but Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Stuart are among those entering the final year of their contracts. This means 2010-11 could be the final season with the current core of players, which certainly includes Chara and Bergeron.

- The salary cap is going to be a headache that could last into the season. If a move isn’t made before the season, expect speculation to continue until the team makes a move or Marco Sturm returns.

Is this a team that will go to an offensive extreme for the third year in a row (second in the league in scoring in 2008-09, dead last a year ago)? Very unlikely. Will the offense, when put in front of a good defense and top goaltending duo, be good enough to still make them one of the more difficult teams to face next season? There isn’t much that would suggest the contrary. This is a team that finished sixth in the East in the regular season. There’s plenty to improve on, but it seems they’ve done plenty to do so.

The guess would have to be that the Bruins will be a better team September 17 than they were after dealing Kessel away last September. Whether it’s good enough remains to be seen, but any buzz surrounding this club as it gears up for a new season seems warranted.

Read More: Marc Savard, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara,

Report: Savard still on trade block

08.30.10 at 11:40 pm ET
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According to an ESPN report from James Murphy, the Bruins are “actively shopping” center Marc Savard despite this month’s news that his contract has been under investigation by the NHL.

“The investigation by the NHL definitely made teams back off from their interest in Savard, but the team is still open to trading him and trying to,” a source told Murphy.

The report adds that talks with teams have been “hampered” by a lack of cap space among teams throughout the league. Savard’s deal, a seven-year pact worth $28.5 million total, carries an annual cap hit of $4.007 million. The deal has been under investigation due to it’s being front-loaded salary-wise in an effort to water down the cap hit. Half of the deal’s money is paid out over the first two years, meaning extra years at less money make for more of a team-friendly deal.

The Bruins are just more than $3 million over the leagues $59.4 million salary cap, but will be given relief of $3.5 million as long as Marco Sturm is out. Once he returns, the team will need to make a move, and Savard as been viewed as a candidate to go.

The center hasn’t made any comments on the situation thus far to anyone around these parts, though he did tell the Ottawa Sun that he hasn’t liked the context in which his name has been brought up this summer.

“I was really focused on staying [in Boston] the rest of my career,” Savard told the paper. “To hear all this stuff this summer bothered me inside more than anything else.”

The cap situation and the arrival of second overall draft pick in center Tyler Seguin have been the primary perceived motivation factors for the team to move Savard, though one might question whether the league’s worst offense from a year ago can afford subtracting one of its best players.

In 41 games last season, Savard had 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points. His regular season was cut short by a hit to the head from Penguins‘ forward Matt Cooke on March 7.

Read More: Marc Savard, Peter Chiarelli,

B’s Town Hall meeting set for September 21

08.30.10 at 1:02 pm ET
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The Bruins announced today that their annual “State of the Bruins” town hall meeting will take place September 21 at 7:00 p.m.

The meeting, which will take place at the TD Garden, will give season ticket holders (as well have half-season and 10 game package owners) a chance to address the franchise directly with Jeremy Jacobs, Charlie Jacobs, Cam Neely, Peter Chiarelli, Claude Julien, and players Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi. NESN’s Andy Brickley will be the meeting’s moderator.

Read More: Mark Recchi, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara,

X-Factors: Marco Sturm

08.27.10 at 4:17 am ET
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Each day this week, WEEI.com will be putting a player or position in the spotlight based on their ‘€œX-factor’€ status entering the season. So far, we’€™ve taken a look at Michael Ryder, Blake Wheeler, Nathan Horton, and the goaltending position. Rounding out the group is Marco Sturm, who may be the biggest case of them all given the uncertainty that surrounds both his eventual return from injury and what type of impact he can have.

Things have been a bit strange when it comes to Marco Sturm this offseason. He’s been celebrated by fans, but not for anything he’ll do on the ice. Instead, Bruins die-hards cheer up during salary cap discussions when they realize that the winger will save the team $3.5 million in cap space to begin the season thanks to his long-term injury status.

Sturm has now had season-ending major knee injuries in each of the past two seasons. In 2008, he tore the ACL in his left knee and was shut down after just 19 games. Last season, of course, he tore both the ACL and MCL in his right knee in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. Injuries have become a big part of the discussion with Sturm, but if the Bruins can get him back(and that’s a big “if”) they could have themselves an offensive sleeper for the 2010-11 season.

The team doesn’t expect to have Sturm ready to go until late November, but with such an injury, nothing can be counted on no matter how “successful” the surgery could have went. The thing is, with the big additions to the offense in Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin, the Bruins will have a chance in the time Sturm’s away to see how this new offense will gel. Plus, they’ll be able to go over the cap by however much he earns. This is awfully convenient for the Bruins, who just happen to be over $3 million over the cap before subtracting Sturm’s $3.5 million. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Marco Sturm, xfactors,

X-Factors: Nathan Horton

08.26.10 at 12:29 am ET
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Each day this week, WEEI.com will be putting a player or position in the spotlight based on their ‘€œX-factor’€ status entering the season. So far, we’€™ve taken a look at Michael Ryder, Blake Wheeler, and the goaltending position. Up next is Nathan Horton, who is undoubtedly primed for a big season, but is there a point at which placing huge expectations on a top player can become detrimental?

The definition of “X-factor” could be called into question here given that Horton is expected to be a first-line winger and potentially the team’s top scorer. That certainly doesn’t sound like a qualifying case for this series, but the truth is that there are so many variables that come into play with Horton that it would be unwise to take anything as being a given. After all, huge expectations that were outside what Horton could do in the Panthers’ offense were what plagued his career in Florida.

For starters, it seemed quite clear when Horton first came to Boston that this is the environment in which he wanted to be. In fact, he appeared rather nervous when he was introduced alongside Tyler Seguin. So why is this good? Because Horton has appeared throughout his young career (he’s still 25) that he is ready to explode in the right situation. It seems he has that here with the Bruins, and it’s apparent that he’s excited to finally have the chance.

If Horton blossoms into the 40-goal scorer that many think he will become when placed to the right of Marc Savard, he will actually double his goals from last season. Whether or not such a feat is actually attainable remains to be seen, but playing on a team with what he called “stability” that the Panthers lacked could go a long way. A long way, yes, but far enough to make him one of the top scorers in the league?

The Bruins haven’t had a player rack up 40 goals in a season since the 2002-03 campaign, when Glen Murray finished fifth in the league with 44 (Joe Thornton wasn’t far behind with 36). How Horton gels with Savard will go a long way in determining whether he’s the next (it’s hard not to imagine Seguin getting to there within a few seasons) to do so. Horton’s spent his career with either with centers below Savard’s skillet or playing the position himself. Finally having someone who can set him up and also needs to be accounted for means big things should be in store, and that maybe those projections aren’t too crazy. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Nathan Horton, xfactors,

Report: Fehr to become head of NHLPA

08.25.10 at 7:18 pm ET
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According to a report from Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal, former MLBPA executive Donald Fehr is set to take on the same role with the NHL player’s association.

Fehr had served the NHLPA as an advisor last year after leaving the MLBPA following 13 years as its director. The 62-year-old is known for once netting players $280 million due to owners’ collusion and for leading the players association during the baseball strike of 1994-95.

Though the report has not been confirmed by Fehr or the NHLPA, Mullen writes that other people in contention for the job have been notified that the search is done.

Read More: Donald Fehr,
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