Signing Restricted Free Agent Brad Marchand to New Deal Top Priority for Bruins This Offseason


June 30, 2011

Signing Restricted Free Agent Brad Marchand to New Deal Top Priority for Bruins This Offseason The rosters of Stanley Cup champions are often ripe for the plucking when free agency opens, with teams from around the league looking to add a proven winner or two to their own squads.

But the Bruins have the bulk of their championship squad under contract to return to defend the title next year. Unrestricted free agents Tomas Kaberle, Michael Ryder and Shane Hnidy are the only veterans hitting the market, and the Bruins haven't ruled out bringing back Kaberle and Ryder.

Boston does have one other key player to worry about signing, though. Forward Brad Marchand is a restricted free agent after enjoying a breakthrough rookie season with 21-20-41 totals and a plus-25 in the regular season, followed by 11-8-19 totals and a plus-12 in the playoffs.

Talks have not commenced on a new deal for the Bruins sparkplug, who carried an $821,667 cap hit last season, but the Bruins have taken the first step to making sure he remains in the fold.

"With Marchand we've qualified him and we haven't entered into negotiations yet," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday.

Teams don't often make runs at restricted free agents, and Marchand isn't likely to get an offer sheet elsewhere with the Bruins possessing plenty of cap space to match any offer. But after the Leafs came hard for Phil Kessel two years ago, eventually working out a trade for the young sniper that yielded draft picks Boston turned into Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton, the Bruins can't dismiss that danger entirely.

With a weak crop of unrestricted free agents and the cap raised again to $64.3 million, teams may be more willing to risk the backlash from rival GMs and wade into the restricted free agent market this summer.

"I just think it's something that we're more aware of now," Chiarelli said. "And you factor that into your decisions. We went through it a couple of years ago and just be aware that this is heightened. I don't know if there will be any more [offer sheets], or any less. I think it's probably about the same."

With just one full season in the league under his belt, Marchand does not possess arbitration rights.

The Bruins had no other restricted free agents on their main roster, but did have a number of RFAs in their system. Of those, only Providence defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk and forward Stefan Chaput were tendered qualifying offers, according to Chiarelli.

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