According to CapGeek.com, the 2010-11 Bruins currently sit at $59,762,771 in terms of payroll, fourth-highest in the NHL over the offseason. With the latest signings of Gregory Campbell, Adam McQuaid, Andrew Bodnarchuk, and Jeff LoVecchio on Thursday, they are now left with $587,229 of cap space under the NHL’s $59.4 million limit..
The Bruins have 19 players under contract for next season at the moment, but missing from those 19 are some rather big pieces: Tyler Seguin, the second overall pick from this year’s draft, and restricted free agent Blake Wheeler.
Wheeler heads into arbitration later this month and is expected to get a nice raise from the $2.825 million he made during the 2009-10 season, despite suffering a sophomore slump. Seguin will make a base salary of $900,000 in his entry-level contract, but given his skills, the rookie will more than likely cash in on bonuses that could push him to the $3 million range.
Something has to be done.
“We’re tight at the cap, and we’ll be able to put Blake in the mix,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a conference call Thursday. “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.”
Tight is an understatement.
The three teams ahead of the Bruins in cap space are already over it. The Vancouver Canucks are currently $358,333 over the cap. The Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks? Despite salary shedding that would make the Florida Marlins proud, the Hawks are still $1,011,590 over the cap. The Philadelphia Flyers top the list coming in at $2,497,262 over the cap.
So what are the Bruins’ options?
One involves the injured Marco Sturm, who tore up his knee in Game 1 of the Bruins playoff series against the Flyers and looks to be off the ice until at least December. In that situation, the Bruins can place him on the long-term injured reserve list, allowing them to not have his $3.5 million cap count against them. But that only serves to prolong the problem. Sturm will return at some point and so will his salary hit, making it nothing more than temporary relief.
Suddenly, the Marc Savard trade rumors don’t sound so far-fetched. Though his contract, at one point in time, was heralded as a great cap-saving move (he signed for a minimal $4 million cap hit over his seven years), it now could be a target for cutting.
Would such a move hurt the team? Yes. It would be the second season in a row in which the Bruins dismiss one of their better scoring forwards, and even though there is a logjam at center and Seguin projects to be an offensive force, Savard is still one of the Bruins’ most consistent, high-scoring forwards, and his absence would be felt, not to mention his no-movement clause can ax any move before it happens.
But how much of a choice do the Bruins have now?
Tim Thomas is another target for trading, but at his age (36) and with his large contract ($5 million for three more years), he is not the most desirable player to acquire, despite his resume and skills. He is also coming off hip surgery and probably is better served to play behind Tuukka Rask, pushing Rask to play better and backing him up if he stumbles.
Lastly, there is the question of Michael Ryder. The winger impressed in his first year coming over from Montreal, scoring 27 goals and adding 26 assists. He then disappeared in his second season, totaling only 32 points in 82 games, greatly underachieving for a player that will earn another $4 million this season. His lack of performance and large contract make him near impossible to trade away, leaving the only other option as burying him and his salary in Providence.
That’s not likely since Ryder’s still thought of highly by management. He also is going into a contract year and will have to perform if he hopes to earn himself another contract.
Whatever happens, it is quickly becoming clear that Seguin will be on the team opening night. All indications lead one to believe that Wheeler will as well.
The numbers will add up, and right now, that is the problem.