WILMINGTON, Mass. — The good news for the Bruins on Friday was that Marc Savard has been cleared to return to practice and a complete return to the lineup could be that much closer.
The bad news is that the Bruins are also that much closer to needing to make some major moves to get under the salary cap once Savard and Marco Sturm do come back. Savard and Sturm are both currently on long-term injured reserve, which give the Bruins the ability to go above the league salary cap by the prorated amount of their combined $7.5-million cap hits for as long as they are out.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli isn't looking forward to the maneuvers that he will have to make to clear enough salary space, but he understands the reality of the situation and has some things in motion.
"I've got a couple of ideas," said Chiarelli. "It's not a pleasant thing to have to do some things, but there's things that are reality in this salary cap world. We were able to have the success we've had to date because of the tools of the CBA, the long-term injury. Now at some point that's going to come to an end. I've had some discussions. I have some ideas and things are moved along enough that if I have to execute I could."
The Bruins have had plenty of success in the early going this season, as they've opened the year with an 11-5-1 mark and the team's on- and off-ice chemistry has played a key role in that strong start. Chiarelli admitted that breaking up the team to clear cap space could upset that chemistry.
"That's a concern," said Charelli. "That's one of the variables you put in the equation. Again, it's the reality of it."
Chiarelli also admitted that the specter of looming changes has probably already affected some of the players on the team.
"Probably here and there," said Chiarelli. "But being in this business from a player's perspective, they recognize there are trades and there are player transactions and they are pretty disciplined to shut it out."
Chiarelli still has some time to work with. He wouldn't commit to a definitive timetable for Savard's return, and of Sturm's ongoing recovery from offseason knee surgery that, Chiarelli added only, "I would still say he's a little bit away."
But both will eventually be cleared to play, and by that time Chiarelli will have to make some painful moves to clear enough cap space for them.