The contract stalemate between the Boston Bruins and restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith ended Monday with the pair signing identical one-year, $1.4 million contracts.
Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald reports Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli had no intention of trading either player. The signings, however, leave the Bruins with about $425,000 in cap space (once Marc Savard is placed on long-term injured reserve), as well as a surplus of defensemen. Harris doesn’t believe the signings remove the possibility of a trade.
The signings already came at a cost to veteran forward Ville Leino, who was attending Bruins training camp on a tryout basis – the team cut Leino shortly after. Fellow training camp invitee Simon Gagne could still earn a spot, but the Bruins need salary room to sign him.
Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe notes Johnny Boychuk was believed to be a trade candidate based on his $3.37-million cap hit and unrestricted free agent status in July. However, Boychuk remains vital to the Bruins’ hopes for a Stanley Cup run this season. Shinzawa feels blueliners Matt Bartkowski and Adam McQuaid are at greater risk to be traded.
Trading a defenseman or two appears the likely option for Chiarelli, but it’s not his only one. CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty observes pre-season injuries around the league have created a market for centers, which the Bruins also carry in abundance. Haggerty suggests Chris Kelly or Gregory Campbell could attract interest from rival clubs, though Campbell is currently out with a core injury.
The Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers could be destinations for Kelly or Campbell. The Hurricanes lost center Jordan Staal up to four months to a broken leg, Red Wings pivot Pavel Datsyuk suffered a separated shoulder and Rangers center Derek Stepan is out at least a month with a fractured fibula.
Chiarelli also faces another busy summer juggling salaries with limited cap space. ESPN Boston's Joe MacDonald reports the Bruins GM must again re-sign Krug and Smith when the pair become restricted free agents in July. This time, however, they will have the leverage of arbitration, meaning Chiarelli won't be able to play hardball as he did with the pair this year.
It won't be easy to re-sign Boychuk, who could command a salary similar to Washington's Brooks Orpik ($5.5-million per season). Dougie Hamilton will be coming off his entry-level contract. Should Hamilton continue to blossom as a top-four defenseman, it will be considerably more difficult for Chiarelli to sign him to a deal similar to what Krug and Smith accepted.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Bleacher Report, Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.