Bruins plan to 'take a step back' in NHL free agency

Bruins plan to 'take a step back' in NHL free agency
June 23, 2014, 2:45 pm
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Perhaps this isn’t a bad thing when it’s all considered, but the Bruins won’t be big players in the free agent game this summer.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed in a pre-NHL Draft conference call that his team won’t be going “full force” into free agency, and the team doesn’t have any meetings with prospective free agents set up during the meeting period over the next few days prior to July 1. The Bruins may have to dangle their toes in a bit if unrestricted free agent Jarome Iginla signs elsewhere, and puts Boston in a need for a top line right winger capable of scoring goals.

But the Bruins are also sitting in what one source told was “cap jail”, and face a potential $4.7 bonus overage penalty on next year’s cap that will automatically lower Boston’s upper salary cap limit. Essentially it will wipe out the $4 million cap exception for Marc Savard on long term injured reserve, and take out another roster player’s salary ($700,000) when the numbers get tabulated.

The lack of free agent activity isn’t necessarily a big deal for the Black and Gold as Marian Gaborik, Paul Stastny, Thomas Vanek, Matt Niskanen and Ryan Miller headline a class that will end up landing inflated contracts from desperate teams.

“I look at it there are good players available, but we’re not going to go full force into free agency. We’ll probably take a step back, and look at what may be lesser deals – meaning not the high profile deals that may be available – partially due to salary cap reasons, and partially due to team chemistry reasons.

“As long as the expectations are in place and you know the player that you’re getting, I wouldn’t necessarily say [free agency] is a bad deal. It may be in five years that it’s a bad deal, but you just have to be cautious and avoid the hysteria that can happen.”

The Bruins stand with slightly less than $9 million in cap space to potentially re-sign Jarome Iginla, re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and Matt Bartkowski, and find possible replacements for Shawn Thornton and backup goaltender Chad Johnson (if he’s not retained). The Bruins may dip into free agency for veteran solutions at the fourth line wing and backup goaltender spot, but the organization also has young, affordable players that could be plugged into those roster spots at a savings for the Black and Gold.