By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- The NHL free-agency period doesnt begin until July 1, so the Boston Bruins have a short window of time to discuss things with a couple of their potential unrestricted free agents.
Tomas Kaberle and Michael Ryder are the two big names who will hit UFA status at the start of July, and its unknown whether either or both players will be back in Black and Gold after helping the Bs win a Cup. Ryder didnt speak at Sundays breakup day for the team as the players packed up their belongings and said farewell for the summer, but Kaberle said he truly enjoyed his taste of Bruins hockey after arriving via trade in late February.
The 33-year-old defenseman had 11 assists and a plus-8 in 25 playoff games while averaging 16:02 of ice time per contest, and played well in the seven Stanley Cup Final games against the Vancouver Canucks.
Kaberle actually finished in a tie with Dennis Seidenberg (1 goal, 10 assists) for the leading scorer among defensemen on the Bruins in the postseason.
Kaberle said hell speak with his agent and GM Peter Chiarelli over the next couple of days, but is hoping he can return to the Black and Gold.
Were going to talk in the next few days. Everything was hectic in the last couple of days, said Kaberle, who mentioned hell be taking the Cup back to his home village of Rakovnik, Czech Republic, this summer. Hopefully we can sit down or we can talk to my agent . . . it would be nice to be back here."
It will be an interesting decision on Kaberle, as he really didnt appear to be a very good fit for the Bruins with his soft defensive play and propensity for mental breakdowns at the worst times. But he does fill a role as a needed puck-moving defenseman, and the Bruins did give up a motherload to Toronto (Joe Colborne, a first-round pick in 2011, and a 2012 second-round pick, which was guaranteed once the Bs qualified for the Cup Finals) in exchange for Kaberle.
With his performance against Vancouver and strong final few games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Chiarelli sounded like he might be in favor of re-signing Kaberle if the price and terms were right. Steve Kampfer is waiting in the wings as a young puck-moving defenseman and there will be alternatives on the free-agent market, but the door is still ajar for Kaberles return despite some tough moments.
I know Tomas had been criticized. The expectations were very high on him when he came in, said Chiarelli. I go to him because he seems to be -- of the group that we brought in -- the most vulnerable. You saw what he brings more against Vancouver. He brings the ability to both slow down the play and speed it up with his passing and skating.
He freezes guys. He freezes guys on the opposing forecheck and he freezes them in the neutral zone. He makes great passes, he skates into the trap and I think he was our top defensive scorer. He skates right into the trap. He was a real important component here and I know he was criticized for a time. But Ill continue to defend him because hes a good person. He brought a lot to the back end.
Since Kaberle has voiced his desire to come back and should command less than the 4 million per year he was making with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chiarellis actions toward the impending free agent will speak to just how much the defenseman actually brought to the back end.