Bruins not expected to be busy on July 1

Bruins not expected to be busy on July 1
July 1, 2014, 10:00 am
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(USA Today Sports)

Welcome to opening of NHL free agency at noontime where 30 NHL managers are hoping to avoid signing this year’s version of David Clarkson. That will be a challenge based on the largely second-tier names in the free agent market this season.

Names like Matt Moulson, Thomas Vanek, Paul Stastny, Matt Niskanen and Ryan Miller are the marquee names, and all of them will likely get bigger contracts than they could possibly live up to over the next five years.

The Bruins have a number of holes to fill on their NHL roster with spots open on their top line, their fourth line and three different restricted free agents in Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and Matt Bartkowski that need to be re-signed.

The problem is they have roughly $1.7 million in open cap space for the 2014-15 season, and an overall total of close to $5.7 million when the money freed up by putting Marc Savard on LTI (long term injured reserve) is factored into the equation. That’s not a lot of money to sign four forwards, and a couple of young defensemen on top of that.

The Bruins still harbor hopes to re-sign Jarome Iginla, who they’ve continued to have discussions with leading into the noontime open of free agency. But the Red Wings, Wild, Canucks, Avalanche and a number of B’s foes in the Atlantic Division are lining up to give the 30-goal scorer a multi-year deal, and supply him with things that the close-to-bust Bruins can’t afford this summer.

They’ve expressed interest in Radim Vrbata as a contingency plan in case Iginla goes to one of the seemingly endless NHL suitors interested, and there are undoubtedly a few more names – likely a 35-plus free agent or two like Daniel Alfredsson -- in Peter Chiarelli’s back pocket.

But don’t expect the Bruins to be very active in the first day of free agency on July 1 with their backs up against the $69 million salary cap wall. Instead Chiarelli and the Bruins will survey the lay of the free agency landscape, and probably make any signings or trades in the four or five days following the opening fireworks.

So don’t expect Chiarelli and the Bruins to be filling up the transaction sheet on Tuesday.

“I don’t think so,” said Chiarelli when asked if the Bruins will be very active on July 1. “If we don’t get Jarome signed and fit into our salary structure, then I’m not going to go out hard looking for a replacement for two reasons: 1) the annual cost and 2) the term. It’s going to be really expensive.

“So we may sit back a bit, wait for that market to go through and then maybe look into the secondary market. There also may be a stronger trade market as we’re going into the secondary [free agent] market, and we may look at that as well. I’ve been doing it anyway because I have to hedge if we can’t sign Jarome.”

So don’t believe if it you hear the Bruins attached to a high-priced top name on the free agent market or a pricey novelty item like Martin Brodeur as a backup goaltender. It would seem that this season the Bruins are shopping in Filene’s Basement for any free agent finds, and then filling in the rest of the roster with younger players from the Providence Bruins that are ready for the NHL proving grounds.

Bargain shoppers don’t tend to make a big splash on July 1, and that may be the story for Tuesday when it comes to the Black and Gold.