While other teams will line up for the chance to woo the likes of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter with huge contract offers on July 1, Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli doesn't anticipate the Bruins joining the fray.
"My gut is telling me that we'll be quiet," Chiarelli said Friday at the club's development camp at Ristuccia Arena. "That's my gut. If you look at how we've build the team over the years, but for my first year and maybe when we signed [Michael] Ryder, we really haven't gone out and hit a couple of home runs on July 1. Maybe I look at the trade market after July 1, but my gut is that I'll probably be quiet."
The Bruins really haven't made a huge splash in the free agent market since signing Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard in Chiarelli's first summer in Boston in 2006, with those signings actually coming before Chiarelli could even officially leave Ottawa to take the Boston GM post.
Since then, Chiarelli has built his club primarily through trades and the draft, with the bulk of his free agent moves focused on retaining the Bruins' own free agents. That has certainly been the case this past year. Chiarelli signed Adam McQuaid, Rich Peverley, David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk and Shawn Thornton to new deals during the past year to keep them from reaching free agency this summer, and since the season ended he's also gotten Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell and Tuukka Rask to agree to extensions.
Chiarelli has been aggressively proactive in re-signing his own players, but doesn't plan to take that same approach when it comes to adding anyone from outside the organization on July 1. The Bruins are already close to the current salary cap ceiling of $70.2 million and facing some uncertainty over the possibility that the cap could drop once the new collective bargaining agreement is finalized.
"Believe it or not, I'm trying to be cautious and I'm trying to keep the team together," Chiarelli said. "I like the flexibility we have going forward, whether it's these RFAs, these contracts that are expiring, whether it's the young guys coming up that could be good replacement players, whether it's specifically on Tim Thomas' deal, his deal will be expiring.
"So I actually like that flexibility, but I'm trying to be cautious," Chiarelli added. "I'm trying to operate under that [cap] number. Keeping the team together is a priority. And if for whatever reason the cap goes down a significant number, then we'll have to deal with it."
Just don't expect Chiarelli to complicate those potential dealings with any major moves in free agency this summer.