Notes: Chiarelli not looking to spend on free agents

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Notes: Chiarelli not looking to spend on free agents

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.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.