The seven-year extension for Marc Savard is an excellent deal on paper for both Savard and the Black and Gold.
By locking Savard up, the Bruins avoid letting their top center go to the free-agent market next July, where he would have garnered more. Savard is one of the premiere playmakers in the game, and his return from a month off with a broken left foot and the Bruins’ coinciding resurgence have proven his worth to the team.
Both general manager Peter Chiarelli and Savard deserve a ton of credit for getting such a cap-friendly deal done midseason and not allowing it to distract Savard’s play on the ice or letting it hang over their heads as July 1 and free agency approached.
There is no doubt that Savard took a discount here, and Chiarelli once again proved to be a shrewd and aggressive GM. He has now avoided three major free-agent dilemmas by resigning potential restricted free agents Milan Lucic and Tuukka Rask earlier this season and now a potential unrestricted free agent in Savard.In the Bruins’ case, they can’t afford much more than this with their cap hit at $46 million next season, and the likes of Mark Recchi (UFA), Steve Begin (UFA), Shawn Thornton (UFA), Derek Morris (UFA), Andrew Ference (UFA) and Johnny Boychuk (RFA) all up for new contracts. With the cap expected to go down, the Bruins will most likely still have to wave goodbye to one or more of those impending free agents, but now they have their No. 1 center locked in for seven years.
The Bruins have now secured the center position until at least the 2011-12 season. Patrice Bergeron has one year remaining, and David Krejci, who re-upped as a restricted free agent over the summer, still has two years. If they can remain healthy, that’s a pretty strong 1-2-3 punch for the remainder of this season and the next, allowing Chiarelli to focus on other areas with the remaining money. There will be $13.6 million will be locked up in centers.
The Bruins also look to be strong on defense for at least another season with both captain Zdeno Chara (one year remaining at $7.5 million) and Dennis Wideman (two years at $4 and 4.5 million respectively) still in the mix. Chances are, Chara is next on Chiarelli’s to-do list as far as re-signing players go.
Between the pipes, Tim Thomas is locked in until the 2013-14 season and Rask just recently signed a deal that will keep him here until at least 2012-13.
So with some contracts coming off the books next season and Savard’s new contract providing some flexibility, the Bruins may finally be able to address their biggest deficiency right now: scoring.
Expect the Bruins to be linked to Savard’s former teammate, Thrashers sniper and impending free agent Ilya Kovalchuk. Sources tell NESN.com though that he is very close to signing a mega nine- to 10-year deal that could pay him upwards of $9 million per season.
If the Bruins are to keep Chara and Bergeron after next season, then it’s highly unlikely they can commit that term and salary to any player. But that doesn’t mean Kovalchuk or another scorer can’t be brought in as a rental at the trade deadline.