Marco Sturm of the Boston Bruins hasn't played a game this year while recovering from a knee injury. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Having freed up salary cap space for returning center Marc Savard, Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli will now have to clear around $3.5 million when left winger Marco Sturm comes off long-term injury reserve later this month.
It appeared Chiarelli had addressed the issue Dec. 2 when it was reported Sturm was being dealt to the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional draft pick in 2011, but later in the day, he issued a statement claiming no deal was in place and Sturm remained a Bruin.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie said the Kings might’ve balked at the move due to uncertainty over Sturm’s recovery from off-season knee surgery, but may be willing to revisit the deal once Sturm is ready to play. In his statement, Chiarelli admitted to asking Sturm to waive his no-trade clause as well as talking to other teams about the winger.
If they’re unable to move Sturm, the Bruins will still have to clear cap space for his return. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reported the team could demote the veteran left winger to Providence of the American League or ship out another roster player.
Sturm could spend a couple of weeks in Providence on a conditioning stint, after which he could be placed on waivers and, if unclaimed, could remain in the AHL until there’s sufficient cap space to bring him back.
He would then have to pass through re-entry waivers, where a team seeking an experienced two-way forward could claim him for only half his remaining salary cap hit for this season.
Defenseman Matt Hunwick was dealt to Colorado earlier in the week to clear cap space for Savard’s return, but the move left the Bruins lacking depth in puckhandling blueliners.
Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe reported Chiarelli might try to get creative by adding a speedy, two-way defenseman whilst shedding sufficient cap space to absorb Sturm’s salary.
Dupont suggested the Bruins GM might target someone like Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars, offering right winger Blake Wheeler or physical rearguard Mark Stuart in a “dollar-for-dollar” swap.
If it’s still possible to move Sturm later this month, Chiarelli will likely go that route rather than trading or demoting Wheeler, Stuart or right winger Michael Ryder.
LEIGHTON TO THE AHL?
The Philadelphia Flyers might want to consider going the demotion route with goaltender Michael Leighton, who, like Sturm, is slated to return soon from LTIR.
Leighton’s cap hit for this season is $1.55 million on a one-way contract, but according to Philly.com, the Flyers only have roughly $700,000 in available cap space. With rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and veteran backup Brian Boucher playing well, Leighton – last spring’s playoff hero – could be the odd man out.
Chuck Gormley of the Cherry Hill Courier-Post suggested the Flyers may keep Leighton on their farm team for conditioning as long as they can, then place him on waivers and, if he goes unclaimed, leave him on the farm and pay his NHL salary.
Trading Leighton might also be an option, but since he’s yet to play a meaningful NHL game this season, that’s unlikely.
SENATORS READY TO DEAL
Ottawa Senators defenseman Brian Lee cleared waivers earlier this week, but as of Thursday, he’d yet to be demoted, as GM Bryan Murray was reportedly still trying to trade him.
Lee might not be the only Senator on the move. The Ottawa Sun reported Murray recently warned his players that changes could be coming if the current roster didn’t take steps to improve.
Murray told the Sun he’d spoken with three or four fellow GMs on Tuesday and will continue doing so, though he noted trades remain difficult at this point in the season as most teams would have to make “dollar-for-dollar” swaps.
He’s resisted inquiries about the team’s young forwards, such as center Peter Regin and left winger Nick Foligno, but the Sun suggested he might change his mind if the team fails to gain ground in the standings.
Unless Murray plans on shopping veterans like right winger Daniel Alfredsson, center Jason Spezza or defensemen Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar, he really doesn’t have much to offer except promising young players like Regin or Foligno. Even then, they probably won’t fetch the kind of roster-boosting return the Senators need right now.
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.