The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks are featured prominently in an otherwise quiet NHL summer rumor mill. Both teams face moving players before the new season begins in October, though for different reasons.
For the Bruins, it’s dealing with a surplus of defensemen. The Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin reports they’re carrying nine NHL-caliber blueliners in Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and David Warsofsky.
GM Peter Chiarelli stated several times this summer he can’t go into the season carrying that many defenders. Though Chiarelli is in no hurry to address the problem, Benjamin believes one or two players will be shed by October.
One option could be demotion, as Benjamin suggests Warsofsky could spend another season with the Bruins farm team in Providence. A trade is also possible, with Boychuk and Bartkowski as candidates.
Though Chiarelli prefers to keep his core intact, Benjamin points out Boychuk is an unrestricted free agent next summer and could command a contract similar to the five-year, $27.5-million deal Brooks Orpik signed with Washington. She also notes Chiarelli was willing to include Bartkowski in a failed trade for Jarome Iginla in 2013.
Cap space is also a concern for the Bruins, who currently sit just over the $69-million cap by $209,000. Moving out a salaried defensemen would free up additional room for other signings. CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins have $3.8 million (using the long-term injury reserve exception for Marc Savard) to re-sign Krug and Reilly Smith. He believes they could be re-signed to cap-friendly deals this summer with the understanding they could cash in next summer when the Bruins have more cap space.
Haggerty warns the Bruins won’t find things much easier next summer. They currently have nearly $47 million invested in just 10 players for 2015-16. Boychuk and center David Krejci are both eligible for unrestricted free agency and Haggerty believes they could cost a combined $13 million per season to re-sign.
At least the Bruins’ need to move a player or two is based largely on a surplus at one position. For the Blackhawks, it’s to become cap compliant before the season begins. They’re currently more than $2.2 million above the cap. Unlike the Bruins, they don’t have anyone to place on LTIR before the season begins.
It could take a trade to address this problem. ESPN’s Scott Powers reports defenseman Johnny Oduya ($3.38 million cap hit) and winger Patrick Sharp ($5.9 million) were mentioned in trade rumors this summer. Both acknowledged the speculation during a fan convention in Chicago on Friday but expect they’ll return with the club when the season opens in October. Moving either player could prove difficult. Both carry modified no-trade clauses, limiting the numbers of potential trade destinations.
Powers reports Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman won’t reveal who could move, but he remains unconcerned, preferring to be patient over the summer. It appears Bowman will wait until training camp and pre-season to evaluate his roster and determine the needs of other clubs before making his move. It’s the same approach Chiarelli appears to be taking with the Bruins.
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 Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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