Tomas Kaberle has one point and a plus-3 rating in six games since being traded from Toronto to Boston. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli hopes recently acquired defenseman Tomas Kaberle will be more than just a rental player for the stretch drive and playoffs.
Following the trade deadline, Chiarelli noted he didn't feel the need to make any moves on deadline day, having already made several in the days leading up to the cut-off point, including the acquisition of Kaberle from the Maple Leafs.
The Bruins GM then addressed the possibility of re-signing the veteran defenseman before he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1.
Chiarelli said he'd only briefly spoken with Kaberle's agent about a contract extension on the day the blueliner was acquired by the Bruins. Both sides agreed to discuss the matter following the season, but Chiarelli said he remained “very optimistic.”
However, re-signing Kaberle might not be easy.
CapGeek.com listed the Bruins as having more than $53 million committed to 19 players for next season and while the team only has a handful of players to re-sign or replace (Brad Marchand, Michael Ryder and Mark Recchi) a new contract for Kaberle would bite deeply into their available cap space.
They could get some cap relief if Marc Savard is sidelined by post-concussion symptoms next season, but that's not something anyone will wish for.
At this stage it’s too early to tell how contract talks will go between Kaberle and the Bruins as he's still settling in with the team.
He might be tempted to test the summer's free agent market, where he'd be among the few notable stars available and thus could earn top dollar. It's believed Kaberle would prefer to remain in the Eastern Conference and, if he enjoys playing in Boston, would consider a longer term for perhaps less money than he’d fetch in free agency.
WILL TOM REMAIN A CAT?
The Florida Panthers’ recent fire sale left them with roughly $20 million in payroll committed to next season's roster and potentially more than $40 million in available cap space if next season's ceiling increases to $62 million, as expected.
While team president Michael Yormark said GM Dale Tallon would be given money to spend at his discretion, don't expect Tallon to spend up to the cap ceiling for next season.
The Panthers are rebuilding with youth, meaning Tallon will likely spend just a little more than what could be next season's cap minimum of $46 million.
That would still leave them with considerable space to re-sign some key players, one of whom is goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Before the deadline, Vokoun gave management a list of three clubs he'd accept a trade to, but was never approached about waiving his no-movement clause.
It’s unclear whether Vokoun will re-sign with the Panthers or test the free agent market. He would be among the few notable goalies available this summer, but it remains to be seen if there will be a market for his skills or if he'll receive top dollar.
There wasn't much demand for goaltenders this season – and, of course, Vokoun's no-movement clause and $5.7 million cap hit hampered his marketability.
However, it's likely more teams will seek an upgrade in goal during the off-season, especially if some of the supposed Stanley Cup contenders get knocked out of the playoffs early.
It's expected Stephen Weiss and David Booth, the subjects of rampant trade speculation prior to the deadline, will return with the Panthers next season.
That won't keep their names out of the rumor mill this summer, but given the Panthers need to be compliant with the cap minimum, it would make sense to retain them.
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.