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Lyle Richardson
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Tim Thomas landed himself a four-year, $20 million extension from the Bruins last week. (Photo by Brian Babineau/Sports Action Photography) Author: The Hockey News

News

Bear market

Lyle Richardson
By:

Boston Bruins fans are pleased their team re-signed goaltender and Vezina candidate Tim Thomas to a four-year, $20-million contract extension last week thus keeping him off this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.

The dark cloud hanging over that signing, however, is the impact it could have on the club’s available cap space for next season.

As noted by the Boston Globe, Thomas’ new salary pushes the Bruins’ committed cap space for 2009-10 to nearly $47 million. With the salary cap expected to flat-line next season, there won’t be much room to re-sign restricted free agents Phil Kessel and David Krejci and still fill out the remainder of the lineup.

That’s led to speculation GM Peter Chiarelli could end up trying to dump some salary to make room for the new contracts of Kessel and Krejci, who could be prime targets for offer sheets from rival clubs if still unsigned by July.

Veterans Marc Savard, Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron and Michael Ryder have been kicked around as potential trade bait, as has Kessel if the aforementioned are unable to be moved.

The Globe noted Savard and Sturm have no-trade clauses, so Chiarelli would need their permission to be dealt. Bergeron’s salary ($4.75 million per season for two more years) and injury history makes him difficult to move, as does Ryder’s salary ($4 million per season for two more years) and streaky scoring touch.

It will be an interesting summer for the Bruins.

• The Detroit Red Wings may be getting closer to re-signing one of their key free agents.

Forward Johan Franzen told the Detroit Free Press last week talks were ongoing between his agent and Red Wings management that were “getting closer, too.”

The Free Press speculates Franzen’s new deal could be worth around $4 million per season, which is about $1 million less than he’d likely land in this summer’s UFA market.

If Franzen is re-signed prior to the playoffs the focus will then shift to Marian Hossa, who, like Franzen, has admitted a willingness to stay for perhaps less than market value.

• A report in Sunday’s Ottawa Sun suggested Phoenix Coyotes netminder Ilya Bryzgalov might become trade bait in the off-season.

Bryzgalov nearly carried the Coyotes into last year’s playoffs and that performance earned him a three-year deal worth $4.25 million per season, but according to the Sun he’s now fallen out of favor with Coyotes management. The article also suggested call-up Al Montoya could have a chance to make a push for the starter’s role next season.

No question Bryzgalov’s performance has been disappointing this season and perhaps Montoya will get a chance to prove his worth in the future, but it’s doubtful Coyotes management would make such a hasty move to dump Bryzgalov after one bad year and hand the reins to an inexperienced Montoya or bring in someone else.

• It’s been speculated for some time Calgary Flames forward Mike Cammalleri could sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer as an unrestricted free agent.

Not so fast, reports Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald, pointing out Leafs GM Brian Burke wants to get bigger up front because he’s tired of seeing his forwards getting pushed around this season. Hall notes the 5-foot-9 185-pound Cammalleri might not fit the mold.

Something else that could throw a monkey wrench into that rumor is Cammalleri’s salary demands. It’s rumored the Leafs aren’t interested in players seeking more than $6 million per season, so if Cammalleri’s asking price comes close to that Burke could take a pass.

• Philadelphia Flyers goalie Martin Biron and Colorado Avalanche netminder Peter Budaj hope to remain with their respective teams beyond this season, but both acknowledge that decision could be out of their hands.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Biron, an unrestricted free agent this summer, acknowledged his future with the Flyers could be determined by his performance in the coming weeks, particularly in the playoffs.

Budaj is a restricted free agent coming off a forgettable season and noted his fate will depend on Avalanche management.

Another factor for Biron is the Flyers lack of cap space this summer, while for Budaj the problem could be the possibility of a new management team that could opt to look elsewhere for goaltending depth.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays 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.

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