PHILADELPHIA – The Bruins continued negotiations with Jarome Iginla’s agent, Don Meehan, at NHL draft weekend at the Wells Fargo Center, but it appears more and more likely that the 36-year-old will hit the open market this Tuesday, July 1.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli reiterated that remaining in Boston still stands as Iginla’s No. 1 priority, but Boston is also enacting contingency plans just in case the right wing signs elsewhere.
Chiarelli wouldn’t say whether the Bruins would prefer to replace Iginla with another 35-year-old plus forward – perhaps 41-year-old Daniel Alfredsson? – or simply push Loui Eriksson to the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. He did say he had no problem with Eriksson, a former 30-goal scorer with the Dallas Stars, getting slotted into a more primary offensive role.
“We’re still talking to Jarome’s agent. I spoke with him today,” said Chiarelli. “I won’t go into details, but we’re still talking and we’ll see how it goes. If we don’t get Jarome signed to fit into our salary structure, I’m not going to go out hard to find a replacement for two reasons: the annual cost and the term.
“I have to hedge in case we don’t sign Jarome. I have no problem if we have to put Loui on that top line. He’s played on top lines before and he’s played with the Sedins in the Olympics, and he was terrific. He’s better suited for an upper line. If that’s what we have to do then we’ll do it. I’m trying to be patient with this because I really feel at one point there’s going to be a player that will fit, and want to come here.”
Chiarelli stressed, however, that doesn’t mean that Iginla doesn’t want to return to Boston for another kick at the Stanley Cup in a position that pushed him to a team-leading 30 goals in the regular season, and paid him close to $6 million.
“I’m not saying Jarome doesn’t want to come back [to Boston],” said Chiarelli. “He’s been very clear he wants to stay here, and he’s working with us. We’ll see how it goes.”
The contractual chasm still involves term as much as anything else. Tthe veteran right wing would prefer a multi-year deal with some security, while the Bruins can only offer a one-year, bonus-laden deal that doesn’t promise much if he were to sustain a serious injury early in the season.
Signing Iginla to a straight two-year, $10 million contract would force Chiarelli to jettison roster players prior to next season. That’s a reality the Bruins would appear to already be facing after the NHL posted a $69 million salary-cap ceiling for the 2014-15 season.