|Peter Chiarelli’s willingness to trade Maple Leafs pick makes things interesting||02.08.11 at 3:59 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, making an appearance on Dale & Holley on Tuesday, fired the proverbial gun to kick off trade speculation with the NHL’s deadline just 20 days away. While he reiterated his preference to add a defenseman and potentially a forward, he shed light on the team’s financial situation as it moves toward the trade deadline (something he generally refers people to capgeek.com for), but that isn’t the real news. The GM said that, unlike last year, he is willing to put the Maple Leafs’ first-round pick, which has had “top five” written all over it for quite some time, in play.
“Yeah, I’d look at it, sure. I would,” Chiarelli said. “I’ve had discussions involving that pick. I certainly would look at it. We’ve got a lot of assets, so that alone allows us to be creative also, but I would look at it.”
Already having opened a big door, Michael Holley asked Chiarelli to elaborate on how Toronto’s first rounder, one of two received in the Phil Kessel deal in September of 2009, has come up in trade talks.
“There’s been one [deal] that we’ve thrown around here internally. I don’t know that I would do it, but it’s something that warrants further discussion,” Chiarelli said.
The fact that Chiarelli is willing to consider dealing the Maple Leafs’ selection ‘ on pace to be fifth overall in a draft in which he admitted there being “uncertainty as to what the order of the top five is” ‘ gives the Bruins a leg up on other contending teams. Sellers want top prospects or the ability to obtain top prospects, and the Bruins are the only team with two first-rounders this year, let alone a potential top five pick.
Plus, with Marc Savard being shut down and thus placed on long-term injury reserve, the team has cap space (seemingly enough to add a player with a cap hit in excess of $4.5 million without removing anyone from its own roster) to add a top player.
“Basically you can replace [Savard’s] salary, that cap number,” Chiarelli said. “So that’s [$4 million] and a little bit of change [$4,007,143 to be exact]. We’ve got about $500,000 in cap space, so with Savard on LTI you have the ability to replace that player with a number of players up to an amount of $4 million. That’s not cap space, that’s actual salary. We’ve got some good flexibility right now.”
While the Bruins have been able to make deadline deals in recent seasons to land them major contributors including Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi, the team has not made a blockbuster at the deadline since perhaps 2004, when the old regime gave up first and second round picks as well as Shaone Morrisonn for Sergei Gonchar. If the team is willing to see how far that Toronto pick can take them on the trade market, Chiarelli might be able to pull off something of similar magnitude.
While you can count out guys like Brad Richards (possessing a no-trade clause and playing on a third-place team in the West) or Jarome Iginla (no-trade clause and captain of a playoff team) the Bruins might not be kidding around when it comes to more realistic options. A top-five pick can go a long way, especially if it’s sent to a team that will need young stars to anchor a rebuilding effort.
This isn’t to say that Chiarelli will blindly toss the chip of all chips up for grabs blindly. It is, to borrow a term from the GM, an asset that franchises throughout the league would take considerable steps to acquire. And now, it seems an asset that could land the Bruins the major piece they’re hoping for without having to announce it at a podium in Minnesota.
Chiarelli said that he would “bet” the Bruins make a trade before the deadline. After Tuesday, how big a deal it is seems to be the only thing in question.