Boston Bruins center Marc Savard has reportedly made excellent progress in his recovery from post-concussion symptoms.
So much so, in fact, that GM Peter Chiarelli informed the Boston media Savard is expected to begin skating with his Bruins teammates in a few days.
Savard and left winger Marco Sturm (who is sidelined by a knee injury) are expected to return to action by Jan. 1, although the Boston Globe suggested either or both may even be able to return before then.
Their eventual return means Chiarelli will have to dump some cap space to absorb their salaries (Savard’s cap hit is $4 million, Sturm’s $3.5 million) via trades or demotions.
Chiarelli told Kevin Allen of USA Today he didn’t receive any offers of help from rival GMs during their recent meeting in Toronto, but claimed to have some ideas “in the hopper” on how to handle the situation and was confident he’d get something done.
That “something” looks like it will center on Michael Ryder and his $4-million cap hit.
Ryder, in the final year of his contract, is off to a good start this season, with 10 points in his first 13 games, but he was frequently mentioned in the off-season as a potential trade or waiver candidate. The latter may still happen, but Ryder’s improved performance will entice teams that are struggling offensively, perhaps leading up to the Christmas trade freeze in mid-December, when one-third of his salary will have been paid by the Bruins.
Struggling winger Blake Wheeler has also become a trade candidate. With only four points in 13 games Wheeler’s numbers aren’t as good as expected, but at 24 years of age the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder has the size and skills to attract attention in the trade market, plus he carries an affordable $2.2 million salary.
Of course, it’s possible Chiarelli will ship out a different player no one expects, but contrary to Internet-generated rumors, it’s unlikely to be Savard, given his injury history, salary, multi-year contract and no-trade clause.
The problem for Chiarelli will be finding willing trade partners, something that’s in short supply at the present time. There’s no shortage of teams that would be interested in making deals, but unfortunately the salary cap has an adverse affect on the trade market this early in the season.
That point was raised by Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray in a recent interview with the Ottawa Sun, when he claimed the only thing he’d traded with his fellow GMs were “pleasantries” during their recent meetings in Toronto.
While the Senators have played well of late, Murray remains on the lookout for a deal that would improve his team, but lamented the fact cap limitations force a trade at this point in the season to be “dollar-for-dollar.”
CANADIENS ADDING GUERIN?
The Montreal Canadiens’ trade of defenseman Ryan O’Byrne to the Colorado Avalanche raised speculation the Habs will use the $941,667 they cleared in cap space to sign veteran winger Bill Guerin.
However, a recent report from ESPN.com noted Guerin’s agent said they “really haven’t had anything for two to three weeks” and while the veteran is keeping his options open he appears to be leaning more toward retirement.
It remains to be seen if the Canadiens will use that available cap space to bolster their forward lines or hang onto it for the time being in hopes of putting it to better use later in the season. Despite their anemic offense (especially on the power play) the Habs are riding high in the Eastern Conference standings so there’s currently little pressure on management to take on a free agent.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.