|07.26.10 at 11:51 am ET|
A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to WEEI.com Monday that Matt Keator, the agent for Bruins right wing Blake Wheeler, is already in Toronto in preparation for his client’s arbitration hearing with the team Tuesday. The source added that Wheeler will be flying in sometime Monday.
Wheeler earned $2.8 million last season with the Bruins. Following a hearing, the arbiter will award Wheeler a certain number that the Bruins can either agree to or walk away from. If the team walks away, Wheeler will be a free agent capable of signing with any team.
Should the sides head to arbitration, as is heavily expected at this point, it will be the first such occurrence since 2006, when the Bruins declined David Tanabe‘s $1.275 million award.
Wheeler, who has missed just one game in his two-year career, scored 18 goals and chipped in 20 assists for 38 points last season. His sophomore stats remain overshadowed by his rookie performance of 21-24-45 totals in ’08-’09. The Boston Globe was the first to report Keator’s whereabouts.
|07.23.10 at 7:17 pm ET|
In this offseason, just about anybody on the Bruins could speak to media members and have their hands full. After all, with big names added, bigger expectations for the upcoming season, and enormous questions about the roster, a Q and A could go on for hours if both sides have the time. Make that player a young star recovering from a playoff-ending injury and it’s no different.
Center David Krejci took some time to speak with reporters after signing autographs for youngsters at the first Bruins summer camp on Friday. He first fielded questions from kids who took part in the camp. After handling such toughies as, “What position do you play?” and, “Who broke your wrist?” Krejci put aside the youngster’s mispronunciation of Prague (“Praig” was a good one) and touched on his offseason, the state of the Bruins, and his excitement to be 100 percent again.
Krejci will have his final procedure for what is hopefully a long time next Friday when he has the screws removed from his right wrist, which was broken by Mike Richards in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. Though the first surgery on the wrist happened under unfortunate and unusual circumstances, Krejci is far less concerned with this one.
“They’re not even going to put me to sleep, they’re just going to make little holes in each side and just take the screws out and that’s how it is,” Krejci said.
The 24-year-old actually spoke rather highly of getting the screws removed, as their absence will leave just his large scar as the only evidence of the injury that shook the Bruins’ postseason.
“I can’t wait for [the surgery], because after it, a week or two after it, I’ll go on the ice and I’ll be able to start lifting heavy weights and I’m really excited for it,” Krejci said. “It’s been a long time and I can’t wait to go out there and get back on the ice and just back in the games and everything.”
While Krejci’s wrist has been a popular topic in the offseason, perhaps nothing in the last week or so has grabbed more attention more than the status of right wing and Krejci’s good friend Blake Wheeler. The two-year veteran filed earlier this month for arbitration, and by the looks of things, that’s where the process is headed.
Agent Matt Keator, who represents Wheeler and defensemen Mark Stuart and Zdeno Chara, told WEEI.com Friday that the only update on the situation is that the “tickets for Toronto [the site of his Tuesday arbitration hearing] are booked.” The two sides have not made progress in trying to avoid arbitration. Wheeler is currently on his honeymoon and therefore might not be hung up on his contractual status, but a question regarding whether Krejci and Wheeler have kept in touch yielded an interesting answer.
“We’re pretty good friends, and yeah, we talk once in a while. I just went to visit [him] a couple weeks ago. I went to his place in Minnesota, but I’m not going to say anything,” Krejci said. “We’re friends and whatever we talk [about], it’s just between me and him.”
While something is bound to happen with Wheeler, whether he be re-signed prior to Tuesday, granted or declined what the arbiter awards him. The same can’t be said for center Marc Savard, who has been the centerpiece of the rumor mill around Boston. With Tyler Seguin in tow, the Bruins have a surplus of high-level center icemen but not enough money to sign all 22 men for their roster (Seguin and Wheeler remain without contracts. What does Krejci make of the talk that’s out there?
“I have actually no idea. I have no idea, that’s all I can tell you,” Krejci said of Savard. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know that he’s getting traded or whatever [rumors] say. I have no idea. He’s with us right now and that’s how it is.
“You want to see the best players, the good players, the good guys in the dressing room,” he added. “We want them to be back, and he belongs to one of these categories and you want him back.”
The one thing Krejci does seem to have the utmost confidence in is his return to the ice. Though he has yet to skate this offseason, he noted that he doesn’t skate during the offseason anyway. After his surgery he will head home to the Czech Republic for about a month and hit the ice as he gears up for training camp on September 17.
“I’ll go on the ice mid-August and my wrist might be a little weaker at the beginning of the camp, but we still have like two and a half months before the season starts, so I’ll be definitely 100 percent for the first game,” Krejci said.
This offseason has seen a lot go right for the Bruins, be it the offensive additions or the buildup to Prague. With Marco Sturm‘s knee expected to keep him out for a good portion of the season, health remains a factor that shouldn’t be overlooked. With Krejci back and ready to go, the team maintains offensive stability that came and went last season. Krejci just hopes the Bruins make it back to the big stage that is the NHL playoffs and have a better result this time.
“We had not many people [believing] in us [last season], but we kind of [snuck] in to the playoffs and I think we were playing great hockey. Whatever happened happened and, you know, these things happen,” Krejci said. “We’ve just got to learn from these mistakes and hopefully it’s going to get us stronger and next time we’ll be in that position where we’ll know what to do.”
|07.22.10 at 2:37 pm ET|
Thayer Academy alum and Boston native Jeremy Roenick will be inducted into the the US Hockey Hall of Fame on October 21, USA Hockey announced Thursday afternoon. He joins former coach/executive Lester Berglund, defensmen and brothers Derian and Kevin Hatcher, and Dr. V. George Nagobads.
The eighth overall pick in the 1988 NHL draft, Roenick and the Blackhawks made it to the Western Conference finals in his rookie year and in 1992 reached the Stanley Cup finals but were swept by the Penguins. Roenick never won a Stanley Cup in his 20-year career that also saw stops in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and San Jose.
Roenick had 513 goals and 703 assists in 1,363 games for 1,213 points. The outspoken center was a nine-time All-Star.
The younger brother of Kevin, Derian Hatcher was selected in the same draft slot at Roenick but two years later, going eighth overall to the Minnesota North Stars in 1990. Hatcher played two seasons in Minnesota and 10 more with the Stars following the franchise’s relocation to Dallas. As captain of the Stars, he led the team past the Sabres in the Stanley Cup finals in 1999.
When Hatcher’s contract expired in 2003, he the Michigan native took a five-year deal with the Red Wings, but was bought out after just one season. He played his final three seasons with the Flyers. In 1,045 games, Hatcher totaled 331 points and 1,581 penalty minutes.
|07.21.10 at 2:00 am ET|
With all apologies to Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton, and Cam Neely, the salary cap just may be the single topic that has dominated Bruins offseason discussion more so than anything else. This, of course, in an offseason that featured a team that came within a game of the Eastern Conference finals adding a wunderkind center, a high-scoring winger, and naming one of the franchise’s most popular players president.
But back to the cap. After all, fans will panic over the roster as long as the team doesn’t have sufficient room to sign forwards Seguin and Blake Wheeler. According to CapGeek.com (once again, if you don’t have it bookmarked you are not using a computer correctly), the Bruins (should defenseman Adam McQuaid play in Boston next year) have $12,229 in cap space with deals for Wheeler (whose arbitration date is set for July 27 and hasn’t made headway with the Bruins on a new deal) and Seguin (who will get a base salary of $900,000) still without contracts.
In most cases, when a rumor arises regarding Tim Thomas ($5 million cap hit in each of the next three seasons) or Marc Savard ($4.007 million in each of the next seven), the first thing that comes to mind is the Bruins finally having some breathing room as they float higher and higher towards the feared $59.4 million mark.
As we’ve written in this space before, don’t count on the B’s to take Marco Sturm‘s long-term injury status as an excuse to head into the season over the cap. Though they will get relief, general manager Peter Chiarelli has already noted that the team would still have to sort out their cap situation prior to activating the winger anyway. Such a move would be a temporary solution, and though they could potentially showcase their high-priced players in an effort to raise their trade value, it’s just not a safe hand to play.
The Bruins aren’t the only team with such concerns, however. Though their cap situation has gotten considerable attention this offseason, other teams are in just as tight a spot (or worse). Here’s where the Bruins rank among those teams (all cap numbers as of Wednesday morning, courtesy of CapGeek.com).
TEAM CAP SPACE PLAYERS ON ROSTER
Calgary Flames $650,000 22
BRUINS $12,299 20
Vancouver Canucks -$358,333 23
Chicago Blackhawks -$1,011,590 17
New Jersey Devils* -$1,801,667 20
Given the fact that the Bruins have 20 players potentially getting NHL salaries (McQauid is on a two-way deal for the first year of his contract), they are close enough to a 22-man roster that their woes could be settled by only unloading one contract and signing Wheeler and Seguin with the money saved. Obviously, training camp will also have a lot to do with it, but numbers-wise, this works.
Whether or not it’s as simple as that remains to be seen. Chiarelli has long come with the reputation of being cap-savvy, so one would think the general manager has something up his sleeve. Either way, the Bruins may be a move away from solving their problems. The same can’t be said for the Blackhawks, who appear to be in the worst shape.
Not only have the defending Stanley Cup champions made multiple deals — sending Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, and restricted free agent Andrew Ladd packing — in the name of cost-cutting, but they are still more than $1 million over the cap and have only 17 players on their roster. All of this while goaltender Antti Niemmi still doesn’t have a contract.
The Bruins have it bad when it comes to the salary cap, and nobody will forget it until a resolution is reached. They are not alone, however, and they certainly aren’t the worst off.
|07.19.10 at 5:52 pm ET|
Seventeen years is a long time, but not too long for the Devils and all-galaxy winger Ilya Kovalchuk, apparently. According to reports, Kovalchuk will get in excess of $100 million dollars in a deal that will run longer than both World Wars and the American Civil War combined. The front office in New Jersey must have had a whale of a time trying to project how things will be in 15, 16, and 17 years. Today’s babies will be driving. Today’s children will be parents. Today’s parents will perhaps be grandparents.
And Kovalchuk’s contract will still be on the books.
So, as Devils fans celebrate the retaining of their top offensive threat and take to partying like it’s 2027, it’s quite amusing to think back to a time when fans wanted the Bruins to make a deal last season to acquire the then-Thrasher at any cost. The asking price for Kovalchuk during the season included the first-round pick the Bruins had acquired from the Maple Leafs in the Phil Kessel deal. Blake Wheeler‘s name also popped up in rumors regarding the two teams, though it’s difficult to project which players would have made their way to Atlanta in a deal. During the season it was quite apparent the pick would be at least a top-five-to-top-three pick, and thus the Bruins pulled out of the running due to an unwillingness to move the pick.
Five months and an outrageously lengthy deal later, it appears the Bruins made the right move by making no move at all with the Thrashers. They kept the pick, which ended up being the second overall selection, and got what many believe is a star in center Tyler Seguin. Once signed, Seguin will receive a salary of $900,000 in addition to performance bonuses, which means his cap hit during the life of his entry level deal could max out at around $3.75 million.
Seguin’s contract, should he become the player many expect him to be, will be good money for a potentially elite player. However, given the current cap disaster the Bruins are dealing with, many are wondering how they will even be able to stay under $59.4 million while paying the rookie (who, at age 18, has been alive just one more year than Kovalchuk’s deal will run) the bargain rate of $900,000.
The team has between $500,000 and $600,000 in cap space and, in addition to having to sign Seguin, are just over a week from winger Wheeler’s arbitration date. That situation could be rather costly, as Wheeler earned $2.8 million last season and a source told WEEI.com Monday that the two sides have made “no progress” on a deal to avoid arbitration.
Had the Bruins made a deal involving the Toronto pick for Kovalchuk during the season, not only would they be without the long-term benefits of Seguin, but they would have almost surely lost the winger on the open market. Trying to work out a deal to keep him in the fold would be a stray from what the current front office is used to, as history has shown that general manager Peter Chiarelli’s idea of a lengthy contract is the seven-year, $28.05 million extension the team gave to center Marc Savard in November.
Keeping in mind the team has long-term plans outside of Seguin and Wheeler, getting and keeping Kovalchuk — even if he did receive as long a deal as he got from the Devils and carried a $6 million cap hit — would have made a lot of the Bruins’ other plans a lot tougher. Who knows if they would have been able to give defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk raises before free agency hit or whether they would have waited it out in hopes of making sure they could retain Kovalchuk. Forget about devoting any time to potential extensions for Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Maybe Tim Thomas would have been forced to be expendable in a soft deal, thus making the goaltending situation far less stable. There are dozens of other combinations of undesirable cost-cutting maneuvers the Bruins would have been forced into just to make sure they had a chance at keeping the winger.
The Bruins should be applauded for having one of the better offenses for any team in the league. They gave themselves a chance to do big things by getting the pick from Toronto, and in keeping it, they may have avoided financial strife and roster catastrophe.
|07.19.10 at 12:38 pm ET|
The Bruins wanted to avoid arbitration in the cases of Gregory Campbell and Blake Wheeler, and though they did so with Campbell last week with a two-year, $2.2 million deal, locking up Wheeler before his July 27 hearing may not be as easy.
According to a league source, the Bruins and Wheeler’s camp have made “no progress” thus far on a new contract, though talks are expected to pick up soon. If Wheeler makes it to a hearing and the Bruins choose against paying him what he is awarded, the 23-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent and would be free to sign with any team.
The Bruins would officially be over the $59.4 million salary cap by signing Wheeler, who earned $2.8 million last season, but general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated last week that it is the team’s intention to come to deals with both Wheeler and rookie forward Tyler Seguin.
Defenseman David Tanabe is the only the case in which Chiarelli and a player saw the arbitration process through, with Tanabe being awarded $1.275 in 2006 and the Bruins letting him walk. Tanabe then signed with the Hurricanes and played parts of two seasons with the team before a concussion ended his career.
Wheeler is just two years into his NHL career and last season scored 18 goals and chipped in 20 assists for 38 points, a step down from the 21-24-45 totals he posted as a rookie in the 2008-2009 campaign. He has missed just one game in his career.
|07.19.10 at 3:41 am ET|
The Bruins had plans to be active in the trade market throughout the offseason, and as anyone who’s seen their current cap situation could infer, they would have been in far better shape had they been able to move contracts out as they brought new ones in. Yet in all their moves thus far, they’ve crept closer and closer to that $59.4 million cap ceiling with moves still left to be made.
Dennis Wideman and Nathan Horton‘s annual cap hits were essentially a wash, with Horton ($4 million) making slightly more, but the $1.1 million Gregory Campbell will earn in each of the next two seasons, in addition to multiple re-signings made by the Bruins, has left the team looking at just over $500,000 to sign both Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin, neither of which could be had for such cheap money.
Though the Bruins clearly are in a predicament, it’s tough to blame them. In fact, it could be argued that they have actually done the best with the situation the offseason has put them in, with free agency in particular preventing them from potentially making a deal they may be interested in.
Though Ilya Kovalchuk has gotten plenty of attention for still not having signed a deal, the fact of the matter is that the high-scoring winger is not alone is prolonged free agent status. Alexander Frolov, Lee Stempniak, Marty Turco, Paul Kariya and Maxim Afinogenov are just a few of the big names that remain on the market 20 days into free agency.
As a result, general manager Peter Chiarelli said last week to expect the Bruins to be “relatively quiet” as they wrap up Wheeler and Seguin. This means that anyone who has been strung along by each murmur of a rumored deal including Marc Savard or Tim Thomas may be disappointed. Read the rest of this entry »