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Slow free agency to blame for slowed trade market

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.

The long and short of it is that it is unlikely any team interested in trading for any Bruins player with a bigger contract (Savard’s $4 million cap hit is more manageable and a better bargain than Thomas’ $5 million) would want to make such a deal before seeing where the pieces fall in free agency. Depending on where Turco goes, it could become a certainty that Thomas will stay in Boston and continue to split time with Tuukka Rask for the time being.

As for Savard, a potential deal should never be counted out, but if a team with multiple needs on offense needs to make a splash, it could try to wait it out on one of the top non-Kovalchuk wingers and save money by adding a scorer at shorter money rather than trading for a center with a seven-year deal.

The Islanders could be one of those teams, and they were reported to be “in the hunt” for Savard. They have also been one of the teams vying for Kovalchuk’s services, so should Kovalchuk end up with the Kings or back with the Devils, the Islanders — who have plenty of cap space (over $27 million) — could begin the process of weighing the benefits of going after a cheaper winger or trading for Savard. The Islanders, who scored just 214 goals last season, could certainly use the help in either area. Or both.

Savard, of course, would have to approve a deal to the Islanders, but the point is that the 33-year-old center’s name has been a mainstay in the rumor mill, and as free agency heads for its fourth week, nothing has gotten to the point where he would need to waive it. This doesn’t mean the Bruins won’t be able to make a deal, but with such big names left and teams having plenty of options remaining before them, don’t expect anything soon.

“I’€™m just kind of riding the market a bit and that’€™s why I say we’€™re going to be quiet for a while,’€ Chiarelli said last week.

There are still moves to be made, but for those hoping for a blockbuster, it might be more logical to get used to the quiet for now.

Read More: Boston Bruins, ilya kovalchuk, Marc Savard, Tim Thomas
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