|A look at where the Bruins’ cap woes rank||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
*Including 17-year contract to Ilya Kovalchuk, which has been rejected by the NHL but could still be agreed to if revised.
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.
|Kovalchuk the best thing that never happened for Bruins||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.
|Chiarelli: ‘We’ve got to sever cap space’||07.15.10 at 5:42 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with members of the media in a conference call on Thursday and shed light on some of the issues regarding the Bruins and their financial situation heading into the 2010-2011 season. With the signing of Gregory Campbell to a two-year deal, the Bruins would now be estimated to have around half a million dollars remaining to sign Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin.
Wheeler made $2.8 million and is headed for an arbitration hearing on July 27. That, in addition to the $900,000 salary Seguin will almost certainly get, would suggest the Bruins need to make some sort of move, something Chiarelli didn’t deny.
“We’re tight at the cap and we’ll be able to put Blake in the mix and then we’ve got to sever cap space and we’ll see where we’ll go from there as it applies to the start of the year,” Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli added that the team has spoken to Seguin’s agent, Ian Pulver, and that the sides will “get going on that next week.” The impression was that the team will ideally get a deal done for Wheeler first before moving their attention to Seguin. As for what the team might do to get under the cap, Chiarelli noted that even if the Bruins do use Marco Sturm‘s long-term injury status for cap relief (Chiarelli said the team doesn’t expect Sturm back until mid-November), they would still have to make a move anyway to shed money before the winger returns.
With Tim Thomas trade rumors having died down a bit in recent weeks, Chiarelli said that there is “no update” on the situation and reiterated that Thomas wants to remain a Bruin and that the Bruins still want the goaltender.
As for the “secondary market” players — guys the Bruins would not put on the forefront in free agency but could potentially look to sign later in the offseason — that Chiarelli spoke about in the beginning of the offseason, which consisted of Steve Begin and Miroslav Satan, Chirarelli said that he has not “moved on from them yet.”
“I really haven’t dismissed anything,” Chiarelli said. “I think there’s still a lot left in the summer and we’ll see where things go, but after we get [Wheeler] [and Seguin, he later corrected himself to include] done, we’re going to be relatively quiet for the time being.”
This has been a big offseason for the Bruins, and a busy one at that. Rather than sitting back and letting the selection of Seguin be the team’s only major improvement, Chiarelli said early on in the offseason that the team would be active in the trade market more so than in free agency. The team then made a major trade with the Panthers, securing Nathan Horton and Campbell in exchange for Dennis Wideman and a pair of draft picks, including the 15th overall choice last month.
Still, the transaction sheet wouldn’t paint the Bruins as giants in the trade market since, unless anyone thinks the Vladimir Sobotka-David Warsofsky swap was a game-changer. Despite which moves were actually completed, Chiarelli insisted he remained in the thick of trade talks.
“I was active in the market even so after [getting Horton], but nothing really happened. It’s just quiet right now,” Chiarelli said. “Everything’s slow and I’ve talked to a few guys and everything is kind of grinded to a halt. 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.”
|Report: Bruins, Campbell close||07.14.10 at 7:27 pm ET|
The Boston Globe is reporting that the Bruins are close to avoiding arbitration in at least one case. Center Gregory Campbell, whom the Bruins added last month in the Nathan Horton trade with the Panthers, is inching close to signing a two-year deal, according to the report.
Kevin Paul Dupont writes that the deal is expected to bring Campbell an expected salary of between $1.1 million and $1.3 million, a raise from the $800,000 he earned last season. Should the Bruins give him such a deal, they’ll have nowhere near enough to sign Blake Wheeler, whose arbitration hearing is set for July 27, and second overall pick Tyler Seguin.
Campbell scored two goals and had 15 assists last season with the Panthers. He had 32 points the season before is considered a solid penalty killer. In parts of six seasons, all with Florida (though he played in just two games in 2003-2004), Campbell has totaled 85 points in 363 games.
Comcast Sportsnet first reported that the center and Bruins were close on a deal. Campbell is the son of NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell, who received a great deal of attention last season for taking no action against Matt Cooke for his March 7 blindside hit to the head of Marc Savard.
|Tyler Seguin’s fantastic adventure||07.10.10 at 10:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The initiation of Tyler Seguin couldn’t have gone much better.
Fans turned out in record numbers at the team’s fourth annual summer development camp to see No. 57 in a yellow pinny skate in Bruins black and gold on the ice at Ristuccia Arena. [For the record, he'll wear No. 19 when the real games begin].
He handled every media request flawlessly (see below for an example of that). He survived his first hockey test with an NHL organization. He was even matched up against the “veteran” of development camp, “Jumbo Joe” Colborne, who stands about 6-9 on skates, and handled himself with confidence and determination that showed Bruins executives like Don Sweeney that he might indeed be ready to compete for a spot on the big club this fall.
And most importantly, he made it through without any freak injuries and appears ready to get some R&R and come back in September and skate against the big boys.
“Obviously, I’m very excited,” the 18-year-old Seguin beamed. “This has been my dream my whole life to get this opportunity. It’s right around the corner, training camp, I’m going to come in here and work my hardest and hopefully, earn a spot.”
What’s the biggest lesson he’s learned in one week on the job?
“Here you have to be a professional,” Seguin answered. “This is a job. You’re trying to take other players’ jobs here and trying to get to the next level. I think it’s just the adjustment of how much bigger the players are here and I think it’s different than sometimes in the OHL, everyone here are 100 percent committed to their dream. It’s just a little bit different than what I’m used to. It’s just a whole other step.”
Still, there were moments for Seguin when he was reminded that he’s no longer with Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League in junior hockey but rather in the big time. Like on Thursday when he arrived at practice and already had a little fan.
“I thought it was pretty cool a little kid saying my name,” he said. “Other than that, there’s no special treatment here. Everyone is treated fair. I don’t think it matters if you go first round or fifth round, everyone coming in here has the same opportunity to earn their spot and that’s just what I’m trying to do.”
|Don Sweeney’s shining moment||at 7:39 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — These are proud times for Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney.
All one had to do was take one look at the massive crowd that turned out at tiny Ristuccia Arena here for the final day of the team’s week-long development camp for rookies and young prospects.
It was Sweeney who organized and ran the team’s first such off-season camp in July, 2007. He said after Saturday’s workout that the 2010 edition was another success, featuring star prospects Tyler Seguin and Joe Colborne.
“Not really comparing years here, I think we’re excited about the skill set we’ve gone out and identified and brought in,” Sweeney said. “Be it through the draft or through the acquisition side of it, I think, overall, our group should be proud and excited about the guys they’ve identified and brought in.
“Now, it’s time for the players to continue to get better and our coaching staff, who we feel teaches the game very, very well, and our management group, to continue to push these guys all forward. That includes our workout guys, everybody. You see all of our group here, from player personnel, to scouts, you can tell how much our organization is taking care of it and that comes from Peter [Chiarelli] and filters down.”
Under Sweeney, the team has brought the club’s top prospects to Ristuccia in advance of the main September training camp.
“Make no mistake about it, the ultimate goal is to produce the best NHL players we can,” Sweeney said. “The more we can build camaraderie and using that as an example of them understanding they have a chance to be teammates and be part of something where we hope to win.
Development camp gives the prospects the opportunity to get to know each other on and off the ice while teaching them the level of dedication and training necessary for them to reach the next stage of their careers.
“Ultimately, we’re just trying to win,” Sweeney said. “I hope with all my heart that these guys come in here and they grab a hold of it right from the get-go and the culture we’re trying to create and the momentum we have and they continue to push that forward and I think that helps in that regard.”
“We referenced earlier in the week where Joe Colborne had reached out to a number of these kids and gave them a little heads up. That’s the stuff we hope each and every one [understands]. Next year, it might be somebody else that reaches out to a young draft pick and so you’ve created that momentum and the culture that we’re hoping to continue to build going forward.”
Colborne was only too happy to help.
“These guys have been coming up to me the whole camp with questions,” Colborne said. “I’ve tried to be as welcoming as possible and make sure they all feel comfortable because I know what it feels to be a new guy coming in with no idea. So I’ve been up front with them, trying to give them the heads up on what the tougher parts of camp are, the things you’re going to have to learn and they’ve all taken it in stride and improved since the start of camp.”
One of the bonding activities that Colborne helped lead was a bowling outing on Thursday night.
But perhaps the biggest confirmation of Sweeney’s optimism came from Colborne, who just completed his third such development camp with the B’s.
“Right from Day 1, when we were doing the program with the Marines, that’s all they talked about was doing that extra little bit that will be the difference between winning a Stanley Cup championship or losing in Game 7 like we did this year,” the 20-year-old Colborne said.
“Obviously, you can tell the management is hungry. The guys like [David] Krejci have been back here and he’s ready to get going. It’s going to be a very hungry group next year and hopefully, I’ll be part of it.”
|B’s development camp ends on record note||at 2:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Judging by the crowd alone, the five-day Bruins development camp would be a rousing success. Over 1,200 fans turned out at Ristuccia Arena on Saturday as the entire seating section was filled with fans eager to get their first glimpse of top pick Tyler Seguin, along with other prospects Joe Colborne and Yuri Alexandrov.
The Bruins ran through drills and finished with an intrasquad scrimmage.
Two extra sections, normally reserved for Bruins staff and media, were opened to accommodate the overflow crowd that stretched out the door of the Wilmington practice facility.
“We had to let them into our little private area,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said with a proud smile. “It was great. They liked the show that was put on. They see the obvious skill out there and the depth of the guys. It’s great.”
Some other quick notes from Saturday’s wrap up:
* Of the 27 players at camp this week, eight will return to college this fall, while the others will prepare for the upcoming training camp, which begins on the same sheet of ice in early September.
* Assistant general manager Don Sweeney is looking for a little more conditioning from talented but young Russian defenseman Yuri Alexandrov, who just turned 22.
“Obviously, there’s a language barrier there and [there's] cultural differences,” Sweeney said on Saturday. “Once he’s on the ice, he feels most comfortable and that’s a good thing. But there’ll be systematic things and nuances he’ll have to figure out.
“We’ve tried to attack that communication and tried to get better at it because there is a gap there. And the onus falls on him a little bit to understand that and immerse himself in that.”
This is the second development camp for Alexandrov, who was drafted in 2009 by the Bruins and played in the professional KHL league in Russia this past winter.
“You can tell when the game starts, his positional play, his understanding and his stick positioning is very, very good,” Sweeney said. “You can tell that’s been taught and built into his game. When you play against bigger and stronger players, you have to develop those techniques and he’s done that.
“To be honest with you, and something we’re communicating with him, I didn’t think he was in quite as good a shape as he was the year before so that’s got to be something he’ll have to attack and address between now and September to realize that he continues to push forward. I would tell all the kids that. I’m not going to single him out for any particular reason, except that the facts are what they are.”
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