By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli doesnt plan to make any big splashes in free agency in a financial climate thats looking more and more like ludicrous amounts of money will be spent on available players.
The free agent market had some good defensemen, but most of them have been scooped up prior to the opening of free agency, which leaves James Wisniewski and Tomas Kaberle as the best of the bunch. Chiarelli said multiple times in a Thursday afternoon conference call that hes wary of the free agent market, and doesnt intend to pay a premium for players that arent truly worth the term or the money spent on them.
The Bruins are one team that could have more than 10 million to spend on players with expiring contracts and an elevated salary cap for the 2011-12 hockey season, but the Bs general manager doesnt sound like somebody ready to burn through his available dough.
Im a little wary of the free agent market, first and foremost. The cap is high and the cap is certainly going to come down in some shape or form. So generally speaking Im wary of the market and where I think it might be going, said Chiarelli. We do have guys headed for free agency after next year that we want to resign. Theyre going to command raises.
Im really not in a position to go out and give a guy a big term contract. I think we can find that help elsewhere -- other than those big term contracts -- and still be in a good position to resign our guys as they come up in the next year or two.
Chiarelli attributed the expected lavish spending on the free agent market to be the result of some NHL teams throwing around dollars to get up to the new salary cap floor for next season. Others will simply overpay for a weaker crop of free agents than in the past few seasons.
There are still some marquee players like Brad Richards and James Wisniewski looking for employment as top shelf UFA candidates, but the depth of quality wasnt available in unrestricted free agency this summer.
I look at my free agent board and I see the number of playersthe quality of players," Chiarelli said. "The numbers may be the same as past years, but the quality is, you know . . . theres just not the high end players. Then youve got the floor of the cap and teams have to spend to it.
So youre going to get contracts I think that -- theyre generally higher in the unrestricted market -- theyll be that added premium because teams have to spend. Then all the other comps follow in line. Thats why Im a little cautious going into this market. Theres not the supply that there normally is and I think the demand is greater because of the cap floor and teams having to spend.
So those two forces mean the Bruins will likely be sitting out the first few days of free agent frenzy with nearly their entire team locked in for another go at the Stanley Cup next season.
Chiarelli confirmed that Andrew Bodnarchuk, Brad Marchand and Stefan Chaput were the only three restricted free agents that the Bruins sent out qualifying offers to. That means that former Bruins RFA candidates Matt Dalton, Cody Wild, Zach McKelvie, Boris Valabik and Jiraj Simek were all granted unrestricted free agency and arent likely to be coming back to the Bruins organization next season.