With Tyler Seguin Signed, Bruins Front Office Can Focus on Cap Conundrum

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With Tyler Seguin Signed, Bruins Front Office Can Focus on Cap Conundrum There was never really any suspense about if it would happen. It was only a question of when it would happen.

There was no way the Bruins were not going to sign Tyler Seguin, the second overall pick in this year?s draft. He?s too important to their future, and quite possibly their present, to let anything get in the way of getting him in town on time for next month?s training camp. And even with their significant cap issues, the rookie salary cap in place makes negotiating with top picks a pretty straight-forward procedure.
 
Thus, the only mystery about the marriage between Seguin and the Bruins was the exact date of the nuptials. And that has not quite been solved yet.

ESPN.com reported Tuesday that a deal has been struck, but neither the team nor Seguin?s representatives immediately confirmed that an agreement has been finalized yet.

"I can?t comment on it," said Ian Pulver, Seguin?s agent. "You have to talk to the Bruins."

However, around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the team announced that the deal was official, with a conference call to follow.

No terms of the deal were immediately made public, but it is expected to mirror the one signed early last month by Taylor Hall, who went first overall to Edmonton. Hall received a three-year deal worth the rookie max. He?ll have a base salary of $900,000 each year, with up to $2.85 million in bonuses to push his overall cap hit to $3.75 million.

Those bonuses can be pushed into the club?s bonus cushion, which means they won?t count against this year?s cap, but whatever bonuses he does earn will be applied to next year?s cap. That?s a dangerous way to do business with the uncertainty of next year?s cap, as the NHL will be entering the final year of its CBA in 2011-12 and the bonus cushion is likely not going to be available again. Applying two years? worth of bonuses to one season will make it very difficult to keep the rest of the team together under the cap.

The Oilers have enough cap space that they won?t have to worry about pushing Hall?s bonuses to next year, but the Bruins aren?t as fortunate. Seguin?s deal will put Boston well over the $59.4 million limit. Teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, so the Bruins don?t need to make other moves immediately to finalize a deal with Seguin. They will eventually, though.

With Seguin added to the books and Blake Wheeler?s $2.2 million arbitration award last week, the Bruins stand at approximately $63.4 million, including buyouts and last year?s $1.75 million cap penalty, incurred primarily from the bonuses Tuukka Rask earned in his breakout rookie year.

That figure also includes Marco Sturm?s $3.5 million cap hit. With Sturm recovering from knee surgery and not expected back until mid-November at the earliest, he can be placed on long-term injured reserve and have his salary replaced. But even with Sturm off the books and all of Seguin?s bonuses pushed to next year, the Bruins are looking at fielding a bare-bones roster with little or no room for any spare forwards or defensemen or even short-term injury replacements. And they will still have to shed $3.5 million worth of salary once Sturm is ready to return.

With Seguin officially in the fold, it is certainly reason to rejoice for Bruins fans. But getting the talented young forward?s John Hancock on a contract won?t end a busy offseason for Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. He still has plenty of work and some difficult decisions ahead of him to sort out his club?s salary-cap situation.

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