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Will the Bruins hang on to Horton?

Nathan Horton was pikced third overall by Florida in the 2003 NHL draft. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Nathan Horton was pikced third overall by Florida in the 2003 NHL draft. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hello there. Thanks for reading the online THN mailbag. Extra thanks if you submitted a question.

Adam, with the way Nathan Horton is playing for the Bruins, do you see any way they can afford to keep him, with the new salary cap ceiling dropping? Even with his concussion history, his agent will still be looking for at least $4.5 million a year.
Les Scott, Yorkton, Sask.


Les,

Horton had a mediocre regular season (13 goals and 22 points in 43 games), but with the market for unrestricted free agents looking as thin as it is, it was going to be difficult for the Bruins to retain Horton’s services to begin with. Now that he’s on a playoff hot streak, it is next to impossible to see him back in Boston.

The Bruins have some $5.8 million in available cap space for the 2013-14 campaign, but star goalie Tuukka Rask is a restricted free agent and he’s also played himself into a sizeable raise during this post-season. There’s a chance Boston moves some pieces around to try and bring back both Horton and Rask, but given the former’s concussion history I expect GM Peter Chiarelli will have to grit his teeth and allow another team to gamble on Horton.

Hey Adam. Rumors are that Raffi Torres is looking to stay with the Sharks, but Scott Gomez is going to take his chances on the free agent market, and Martin Havlat may have seen his last days in teal. Do you know where Gomez and Havlat might be heading next season? And do you have any other speculation or knowledge of changes to the Sharks roster or management?
Adam Horn, Sacramento, Calif.


Although it was another disappointing playoff for the Sharks, GM Doug Wilson is famously patient with his core. So I don’t think anyone ought to expect wholesale change with the roster. Gomez is a complementary player at this stage of his career, while Havlat has two years remaining on his deal.

San Jose has $8.6 million in free cap space and weren’t going to be a big player in terms of free agency, but Wilson has built in some longer-term flexibility – only Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Adam Burish and Brent Burns are signed beyond the 2014-15 campaign – and should be active on the trade front. But if you’re looking for blockbuster deals, you should prepare for disappointment.

Hey Adam,

With the lackluster play of Pittsburgh against Boston seeming to doom them, what are the chances Jarome Iginla might re-sign with the Flames?
Ed Ostrowski, Greenville, S.C.


Hey Ed,

Considering Iginla put his Calgary home up for sale shortly after he was traded, it’s safe to say he won’t be returning to the Flames. In fact, despite the Pens’ dismal showing against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference final, I still believe he’ll re-sign with Pittsburgh (albeit at a significantly reduced rate from the $7 million he’s made in each of the past five years on his current deal).

It shouldn’t be and it isn’t about money with Iginla now. He’ll be 36 in July and is looking for a chance to win with an organization that has established itself as a year-in, year-out Stanley Cup contender. The Pens have $7.8 million in cap space and will re-jig their lineup (most likely, their goaltending) to be right back in the Cup hunt next year. That should be more than enough reason for Iginla to stick around the Steel City.

Hi Adam,

As a diehard Sabres fan, I understand the importance of the upcoming draft and off-season. Picking at eighth and 16th can provide the organization with much needed depth everywhere. However, reports are rampant that one or both of Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek will be moved this summer in an effort to improve this team for the future. What realistic expectations should Sabres fans have for this summer where Darcy Regier has a lot to prove? Is it possible they trade up in the draft to acquire more of a game-breaker?
Jordan Deshane, Belleville, Ont.


Jordan,

Let’s get to your last question first: anything is possible, but the Sabres don’t have the sufficient trade components – at least, ones that are attractive to teams above them in the draft order – to move up. They’ll still get an above-average NHL prospect at the eighth slot, yet they’ll have to look at trades to make more of an impact on their short- and-long-term future.

I absolutely expect Miller to be traded, if not in the summer then certainly during the regular season. They’d be smarter to get it done sooner than later, as Miller being under contract for this coming year (before being an unrestricted free agent in 2014) will get them more in a trade. The longer they wait, the more the return for Miller will look like the ones Calgary got for Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester.

Vanek also will be a UFA after the 2013-14 season, but is a different story in other regards. At 29, he’s four years younger than Miller and is coming off a season where he had more points (41) than games played (38). In theory, Regier should be able to ask for more than he could for Miller, but that may hinge on whether or not the team that wants to acquire Vanek wants his name on a contract extension before consummating a deal.

In sum, I think Miller goes for sure and Vanek is 50/50 to remain a Sabre. Regardless, there should be serious change to Buffalo’s team in the coming weeks and months. Their collapse this past season has ownership unhappy with the status quo.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.

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